On Rainbow Bridge, which links the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh to Koh Pich (known as Diamond Island), a stampede occurred on 22 November 2010. The Rainbow Bridge collapsed, killing 347 people and leaving another 755 injured during a human stampede on the last day of Water Festival. The case was completely closed without any further investigation into what happened exactly. Survivors said it came from an electric shock on the bridge. The bridge was demolished in the next following year after stampede.
Since the tragedy happened, Cambodian government decided to cancel the water festival for the next few years citing reasons such as: people were still afraid of another stampede, heavy flooding in the country, and the political situation after the national elections in 2013.
After many years of cancellation, ordinary people missed the celebrations in the capital. In November 2016, the festival was held once again. I photographed rolls of 120mm film where people were gathered along Chaktoumouk River to watch the boats racing by in front of the Royal Palace and the boats illuminated with fireworks at nights. The rolls were kept for two years in before I had the opportunity to develop them in 2018.
Born in Battambang City, in Northwestern of Cambodia, Hak is a full-time photographer whose work brings together storytelling and artistic aesthetic. Hak has focused on several themes including survivor stories, the funeral of King Sihanouk, architectural documentations and also the changing landscape of his homeland. His work has been featured at art and photography festivals such as Photo Quai and Photo Saint Germain in Paris, Renaissance in Lille, World Event Young Artists in Nottingham, OFF_festival in Bratislava, Photo Kathmandu in Patan, Xishuangbanna Foto Festival, in Yun Nan province, Suwon International Photo Festival, Mt. Rokko International Photo Festival in Kobe, International Multimedia Art in Yangon, Photo Bangkok and ASEAN Eye Culture in Bangkok, Photo Phnom Penh, Histories of the Future in Phnom Penh, Angkor Photo Festival and Workshops in Siem Reap, Singapore International Photography Festival, Ballarat International Foto Biennale in Victoria, and Auckland Festival of Photography.
His photographs have been exhibited in Canada, The United States, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, Slovakia, Nepal, China, Korea, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand. His portfolio has been featured in several international well-known publications throughout his career.
From 2015 to 2017, Hak has collaborated with Japanese choreographer, Akiko Kitamura to create contemporary dance “Cross Transit”. His photographs have been used during performances, and his monologue have been narrated. The dance has been performed in Tokyo, Matsumoto and Phnom Penh.
In 2015, Kim Hak has been featured as a protagonist in a documentary film “Hidden Photos” which produced by Italian film crew, Davide Grotta, Gabriele Borghi and Alexander Fontana. The film is about Kim Hak, a young and talented Cambodian photographer looks for a new imaginary of his country, far from stereotypes. Nhem En, a photographer enrolled in the Khmer Rouge regime, took more than 14.000 mug shots of the S-21 prison victims. He’s trying to establish himself as entrepreneur of the so-called dark tourism.
In 2014, Hak has joined a project Jorng Jam means ‘to remember’ in Khmer. Jorng Jam is a contemporary art and history project working with Cambodian people throughout the world to remember, reclaim and reinterpret Cambodian social history from before, during and after the Khmer Rouge era. In 2015 the project traveled to Brisbane to engage with Cambodian-Australian living in the Marsden/Logan. Hak had been invited to be on art residency working on project of Jorng Jam II in Australia which it is supported by Arts Queensland.
In 2013, Hak has published his first photography book “UNITY” which he had spent his time to document the reflection of ordinary citizens after the death of the King Father Norodom Sihanouk in October 2012.