Language Barrier

Serey Siv


“Language Barrier” is an ongoing photo project documenting mixed-race Cambodian children and second generation Cambodian diaspora living around Serey’s current home of Siem Reap, Cambodia.

After building a rapport and subsequently gaining invitation to each person’s homes, Serey attempts to collect and document their stories and memories of each person’s distant past. In each intimate interview, he probes a subject’s relationship to a Cambodian identity, whether they feel the need to learn their parents’ language, or whether they are battling with an identity crisis. He also documents the memorabilia, antiques and mementos lying around their homes to show us a glimpse into the subtle details of their lives. Knowing that barriers to communication could very well happen at home, Serey wants to challenge the Cambodian society as a whole, including the kaun kat (mixed-race) and anikachun Khmer (diaspora), the expatriate and immigrant parents, in order to reconsider our notions of Cambodian history and culture.


A Cambodian-Canadian, born and raised in Canada, Serey Siv has lived in Montreal, Seoul, Tokyo, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. As a visual storyteller and social documentary photographer, he is drawn to explore the customs, lifestyles and values that characterize his subjects. Serey’s work often raises questions of identity and social issues of the Cambodian people. His work has been exhibited in Cambodia, Thailand and Japan. He currently lives and works in Siem Reap as a project director for an art space he co-founded called Mirage Contemporary Art Space.