Known as an international event, this year’s Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops returns to Siem Reap for its 14th year with a stronger focus on on Cambodia. 

More Cambodians are involved in the festival organisation than ever before, with two of the committee members stepping forward as guest curators of a special projection dedicated to Cambodian photography. In addition to an exhibition in Wat Bo Pagoda looking at Cambodian youth’s reaction to the Khmer Rouge, there will be our first mobile exhibition travelling around Siem Reap on a convoy of tuk-tuks, taking the show to villages in rural areas surrounding the town area to bring the festival to the wider community of Siem Reap.

Brand new Asian-led organising committee including four Cambodian photographers

For the first time, the 13-member organising committee for the annual event has an Asian majority. Four of the members are well known Cambodian photographers, and played a big role in this year’s event.  

Kim Hak, Neak Sophal, Roun Ry and Sayon Soun have been a part of the festival family for many years, and are all alumni of the Angkor Photo Workshops.

Photographer and committee member Kim Hak says it is the first time Cambodians have been on the festival committee and it is an important change.

“We can use our voices to give some suggestions, and feedback to all the board members as we understand the nature of the local audience. We work together to improve the program, we can spread the program wider to local audiences and we can suggest local works to be seen.” said Kim Hak.

Projection screening to showcase Cambodian photographers

Kim Hak joined forces with fellow photographer Neak Sophal to curate ‘REVIVAL’ – a projection screening on December showcasing the work of 16 Cambodian photographers.

It includes photography from the last four decades, and covers a range of issues including, war, environment, labour, identity, gender and social issues. Many works rarely seen in public, and the showcase will be held at 8pm on December 17th, at Bambu Stage.

Mobile Tuk Tuk Exhibition

As part of the focus to include the Cambodian community in Siem Reap, the festival will have its first mobile exhibition on tuk tuks to travel to the villages and rural areas of the town.

The travelling exhibition will featured the rare images of Site II by American photographer Sharon May, who spent two years documenting the refugee camps on the Thai-Cambodian border from 1985 and gives us an intimate look to the rebuilding of lives and Cambodian culture after the war.

Only about 10 percent of Cambodia’s artists survived the Khmer Rouge regime. The few surviving masters in the border camps sought to pass on a vanishing repertoire, in some cases breaking tradition in order to carry on tradition—for example, by teaching girls to play musical instruments.

One of her images shows Voan Savay, the former principal dancer of the Cambodian Royal Ballet, teaching a young dancer in the camp. Neak Kru Voan Savay arrived at the border in the early 1980s intending to leave, but when she saw all the children, many of them orphans, she chose to stay.

Sharon’s photographs have just been published in her new book, “Dancing on Site II: Life and Art in Cambodian Refugee Camps after the War”, and are also on permanent exhibit at recently-opened Cambodian Peace Gallery in Battambang.  

 

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