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CounterPULSE is building a movement of risk-taking art that shatters assumptions and builds community. We provide space and resources for emerging artists and cultural innovators, serving as an incubator for the creation of socially relevant, community-based art and culture.

Before and After War: Post-show panel discussion

by Shamsher ~ March 21st, 2014

On Friday, March 21st,  our Winter 2014 Artists in Residence will be joined by four experts who will discuss the larger themes both works have in common.

About the panelists:

Susan Maxwell, Mental Health Expert - Susan Maxwell works as a Clinical Psychologist employed in the Posttraumatic Stress Disorders Clinic at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the PTSD clinic. She provides individual and group psychotherapy for veterans coping with post traumatic stress disorder and comorbid disorders. She holds a Psy.D. in clinical psychology from the Wright Institute in Berkeley. Prior to becoming a psychologist, she earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and an MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book, Passenger, was published by the University of Georgia Press in 2005 through the Contemporary Poetry Series. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize and her work has appeared in numerous literary journals. She has collaborated with Krista Denio previously as a writer for an evening length piece, and Krista has used her poetry in her workshops and performances as source material.

Khatharya Um, Professor of Asian American Studies, UC Berkeley - Professor Khatharya Um is Associate Professor in the Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies Program, Chair of Peace and Conflict Studies, and Faculty Academic Director of Berkeley Study Abroad at the University of California, Berkeley. She is also an affiliated faculty with Gender and Women’s Studies, the Human Rights Center, the Center for Race and Gender, and the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Berkeley. Professor Um received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley where she was also the Chancellor’s Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research and teaching interests center on Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian American communities, and on migration, refugee, and diaspora studies. She has written extensively on Southeast Asia and Southeast Asian American communities. Her current research is on the politics of memory. In addition to her research and teaching, Professor Um is a long-standing community advocate and has received numerous awards, including congressional recognitions, for her work in the community. She has served on numerous boards including as Chair of the two national Southeast Asian American organizations, the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center and the National Association For the Education and Advancement of Cambodian, Laotian, and Vietnamese Americans. She was also Chair of the Cambodian Network Council, and of the National Cambodian American Organization, and was on the Board of Directors of the National Coalition of Advocates for Students, and the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund. In 2006, she served as a Commissioner for the National Cambodian American Health initiative. Professor Um is a Chancellor Public Scholar.

Misty Snyder, veteran and performer - Misty Snyder is an ensemble performer in the CONTACT project and veteran. Before joining the Contact Project she was in the Coast Guard for eight years and rcently got out in in July 2013. She has interned with the U.S. Marshalls during college and has a BS in Criminal Justice from San Fracisco State. She is currently going back to school to become an electrician.

Thida Buth Mam, author and survivor of the Khmer Rouge genocide - Thida Buth Mam (pronounced Teeda) is a survivor of the Khmer Rouge Genocide and is now a Cambodian American, a software engineer at Hewlett Packard Inc. in Silicon Valley, California. Thida has 2 children, Laura Mam and Andrew Mam. Her powerful story under the Khmer Rouge regime has been told in various books including: “To Destroy You Is No Loss” (autobiography), “Children of Killing Fields” with Dith Pran, “Bamboo and Butterflies: From Refugee to Citizen” and “Vanished.” Thida has also been featured in 3 films on the subject of Cambodia: “Out of The Poison Tree,” “Rain Falls From Earth” and “Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten – Cambodia’s Lost Rock and Roll.” Finally in 2003, Thida appeared on Oprah and was asked to share her inspiring perseverance in the face of death and her experiences as a refugee in America.


At the end of Silenced:

by Charya Burt ~ March 9th, 2014

It has been an intensive residency for the past five months at CounterPULSE, beginning from November of last year up until now. From the first stages of research to the exploration of movement and recently the presentation of three works-in-progress performances, now Silenced has reached its final stage. These five months of discovery and inspiration will stay with me for the rest of my life. The challenges of this piece involves so many elements interwoven together to tell this compelling story of Ros Reseysothea: dancing, singing, acting, and multi-media.

This is this story of a singer whose perseverance and commitment to her career against all odds has inspired me since my youth.  This poor girl who grew up raising and selling boiled snails became the most influential singer in the country. Later the Khmer Rouge silenced her, but her legacy continues to live on. Her voice still resonates in the hearts of Cambodians around the world.

It is also a story about the genocide that remains implanted in the minds of millions of Cambodians.  It is a reminder about the impact war has on people’s lives. Lives are lost senselessly, but what is often forgotten is the terrible blow to culture when the standard bearers of the arts vanish. Like Ros Roseysothea, over 2 million Cambodians lost their lives during The Killing Fields. For us as survivors it is important to learn and understand from our painful past so that we insure it won’t ever happen again. Like Ros Sereysothea’s voice, the Khmer people have come a long way in finding their way back from the ashes of war. As an artist I hope to continue to create art that helps the healing continue so that survivors and observers alike can move beyond The Killing Fields and focus on the beauty of the arts of Cambodia.

I would like to once again thank you the Center for Cultural Innovation for making this piece possible. I also would like to thank CounterPULSE for allowing me the freedom to create this exciting piece. Thank you to my long time collaborator, composer, Alexis Arlich, video designer, Olivia Ting, guitarist, Nohuel Bronzini, and my two dancers, Sandra Roero, and Ravy May for contributing so much to this piece. Thank you to my sister, Sotheary Au my dresser, and my mother for helping to make the beautiful costumes. Finally, I must thank my dearest husband, Rob Burt, my artistic advisor, who has supported me every step of the way.

Here is another preview of Silenced I put together to serve as another way to gain a bit of insight into what next weekend will bring. This video consists of images from different sources including film footage by Benjamin Michael, online photos/footage, rehearsal photos, and footage from the final work-in-progress video by Rob Burt. I am looking forward to opening night on Friday March 14th and then March 15th and then again March 20-23 at CounterPULSE. I hope you can come to see this piece.

Silenced Trailer:

A Bit of Ros Sereysothea




Silenced Has Taken Shape

by Charya Burt ~ February 23rd, 2014

My first work-in-progress felt a bit rushed because there were so many new ideas I was experimenting with. After a while things came together and I was able to see how I could I make the piece into what I wanted – a compelling story bringing together many elements, thematically, choreographically, musically, and visually. I have tried to use Classical Cambodian Dance vocabulary in a new context creating a style that is more expressive with movements I hope reflect a confluence of tradition and innovation. The first part of the piece consists of short vignettes I’ve choreographed to a selection of Ros Sereysothea’s songs where I try to tell glimpses of her story through her songs. That process seems to have worked nicely through the video backdrops embedded in each section of the work.

I have also spent a great deal of time learning to sing two of Sereysothea’s songs; This is the Story of My Love and I’m Sixteen. I will sing these songs live to give a sense of immediacy to the depiction of Sereysothea’s life as a singer. I will try to evoke, in the best way I can, her spirit and will try to take the audience back to Cambodia’s Golden Era in the 1960s and 1970s. Again, through video imagery I hope to let the audience into that world – the world of Cambodian pop culture with the “look” of this glorious time.

Here is a sneak preview of Silenced: 

Also check out a web video/article  from KQED: Cambodian’s Dark Past Behind Her, A Dancer Steps into the Light





by Shamsher ~ February 12th, 2014


As part of the CounterPULSE Underground programming we’re running at our new building until renovation begins, we’re excited to announce that we’ve partnered with CODAME, who will be producing a month of new media ART + TECH events this coming May.

The schedule of events is being finalized, but you can already put your name on the list:

book your ticket with a donation

CODAME will be turning our new building at 80 Turk Street into a vibrant playground for tech-artists to experiment within and for their fans to experience. They’ll bring new media ART+TECH to the community through a series of evening workshops and demonstrations. These events will cover a wide array of topics which include a VJ series, robotics, 3D printing, new musical instrument interfaces, wearable fashion-tech, high-art video game experiences, and more*. In addition, there will be several performances and live events- follow them on facebook or twitter for more information.


We know San Francisco needs a community space for the tech-art culture we’ve been so inspired by. So tell everyone, when you go down Market Street this May, look for the purple glowing light coming from Turk Street and you’re sure to find something worth experiencing.

Want to Play With Us? (Call for Proposals)

Artists and organizations who are playing with new technology and interested in being part of the program fill out this form. Programming can come in the form of an exhibition, event, talk, performance, game or anything you can think of that engages the community within art & technology. Mark or calendar for May 2014! Fill out this form to apply by March 3, 2014.

We are woking hard finalizing the schedule and the artists. Stay tuned!

Some  confirmed participants  include Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (Curated by Piero Scaruffi); Art + Tech + Earth curated by Danielle Siembieda; and Central Art Market NOW!



Behind the Scenes at our 2nd ARC Work In Progress

by Outreach Fellow ~ February 3rd, 2014