Angkor Photo Festival Respects Day of Mourning

The last exhibition opening at the Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap was cancelled Thursday in observance of the national day of mourning held to honor those who died in a stampede on Monday at Phnom Penh’s Koh Pich island.

However, since the works of the two photographers featured in the last show had been displayed several days earlier at Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap City, they were left in place because their subject matters would in no way have offended the victims’ families, said Sasha Constable, an artist and arts curator at the hotel.

For this exhibition, young Cambodian photographer Chan Sokdam had chosen to capture daily moments in the life of physically handicapped people, which he did with the use of compelling images.

Entitled “Life and Disability,” his black-and-white series show people going about their tasks in a matter-of-fact way, such as a woman with a missing limb feeding an unruly boy, or a man with only one leg making adjustments on his motorcycle.

For three years, the brilliant 17-year-old photographer has been taking photo workshops at the Anjali House for children opened in 2006 by the Angkor Photo Festival in Siem Reap City.

In June Mr Sokdam received a scholarship from the Krasuong Kapea Cheat’s national Defense Ministry football club and he is now training as a coach in Phnom Penh.

Also exhibited at Hotel de la Paix are the unusual undulating shapes made by huge flocks of birds flying over Rome that Paolo Patrizi photographed in January 2009 as they were coming every night before sunset in search of warmth, the award-winning Italian photographer explained.

Done in black and white, his photos of “European Starlings” forming giant waves in the evening sky barely look real, although in “person” the birds are so noisy and leave so many droppings that they leave no doubt as to their physical existence, he noted.

Mr Patrizi, who is now based in Tokyo, produced the series as a study in group behavior.

Except for canceling the exhibition opening on Thursday, festival organizers went ahead with public photo screenings this week since the images were on social issues ranging from political crisis to the urban poor and showing them did not cause disrespect to victims Monday’s tragedy, said program coordinator Francoise Callier.

The festival, which started Nov 20, ends Saturday with an event highlighting the workshop students’ works.


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