‘FOUND Cambodia’ is a project that traces some of the sociocultural changes Cambodia has witnessed since 1979. It is a constantly growing archive of everyday Cambodian photography, brought to light from individuals’ and families’ drawers, albums, and closets. The images provide a vernacular lens to how individuals in post-Khmer Rouge Cambodia have experienced the social and cultural revival following the regime’s fall. Further, the project also includes photographs taken before the Khmer Rouge came into power. These images serve as poignant testimonies of the effects that macroscopic socio-political changes bear on the individual. A unique glimpse into Cambodians’ day-to-day lives over the past four decades, ‘FOUND Cambodia’ serves as a visual archive for anyone interested in understanding societal changes through the eyes of an individual.
Lineage and Legitimacy: Exploring Royal-Familial Visual Configurations in Cambodia by Joanna Wolfarth in Trans-Asia Photography Review, vol. 8, n° 1, Fall 2017 : Art and Vernacular Photographies in Asia
As with those of many other rulers, the portrait of Norodom Sihanouk (1922–2012), the former king of Cambodia, has been used at various times in order to convey his sovereign status. This was particularly true of his official portrait, which remains a common presence in both public and private spaces throughout Cambodia. This portrait and multiple versions of it were put to work with press photographs and newsreels of Sihanouk engaged with everyday life, along with the king’s own cinematic oeuvre, to create a visual landscape that reinforced his central presence in Cambodia’s spiritual, social, and political life. All versions of Sihanouk’s official portrait comprise a head and shoulder shot, with his face slightly angled to the side and his gaze focused on a space beyond the frame. He wears a suit and tie, although their colors vary. In some versions the digital manipulation is minimal and lines are visible on his face; in others, the portrait has been more obviously altered and his face becomes shadow-less and wrinkle-free, his hair a solid gray mass. The official portrait is often accompanied by those of his wife, Monineath, and his son, King Sihamoni, presenting a royal-familial triad expressing kingship, past and present.
This paper explores this royal-familial portrait-triad by probing how and why legitimacy and lineage are expressed through visual representations of family ties. Consideration will be given to examples of historical antecedents and the particulars of their resurrection in twentieth-century Cambodia. I suggest that there is a structural power inherent within triadic configurations and that such an arrangement reinforces dynamics of legitimacy. Indeed, longstanding notions of political order in Cambodia are grounded within the triune of Nation, Religion, and King. Often more complex, multidirectional flows of power are expressed in these visual configurations, whereby the authority of the sovereign son strengthens that of his parents, which enables the son to retroactively inherit the power conferred upon his ancestors. Although the right to royal inheritance is “in the blood,” royal succession in Cambodia is not tied strictly to primogeniture and thus there are often competing heirs to the throne, meaning lineage and legitimacy must be more forcefully articulated. This paper will also consider the materiality of the images in question: how such portraits are replicated, disseminated, and displayed.
Collection de photographies du Museum fünf Kontinente : Eduardo Masferré : People of the Philippine Cordillera
Eduardo Masferré (1909–1995) was a Filippino-Catalan photographer who made important documentary reports about the lifestyle of the people of the Philippine Cordillera in the middle of the 20th century. He is regarded as the Father of Philippine photography.
Eduardo was born in Sagada in the Mountain Province of Northern Luzon as the son of Jaime Masferré, a Spanish soldier whose family had emigrated from Spain in the late 19th century. Jaime married Mercedes Langkew, a local woman from Sagada and became a farmer and eventually an Episcopalian priest. From 1914 to 1922 the family went back to Catalonia so that their children could study there, but then they returned to the Philippines and Eduardo finished his studies there. In his early years he became interested in photography, he was a self-taught photographer and when World War II ended, he opened a photographic studio in Bontok. The first exhibitions of his photographs were held in Manila in 1982 and 1983 and subsequently in Europe, Japan and the United States.
“Eduardo Masferré is an artist who did the right thing at the right time for the right reasons. A photographer with remarkable foresight, Masferré understood that change is inevitable. So with his camera, his eye and his heart, he kept the Cordillera’s proud, ancient soul visible and timeless amidst the changes.
With passion and with dedication, Masferré made a creative record of the life around him, realizing its importance. He is a Filippino who loved Filippinos in their everyday, ordinary setting. This is evident in his photographs, which are intensely felt and imbued with the spiritual element of creativity. The world’s way of gauging civilization and the value placed on Filippino ethnic heritage have only recently caught with the vision Masferré had over fifty years ago”, said Felice Sta. Maria, the President and Trustee of the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, in a message to Masferré’s book People of the Philippine Cordillera: Photographs 1934 – 1956 which was published in 1988.
Photographing the Soul of Cambodia: Interview with Sophal Neak by Francesca Masoero, 04/07/2017 in ArtAsiaPacific
Sophal Neak was born in Takeo, a province in southern Cambodia, in 1989. Since 2011, her works—in particular her photographs—have been showcased across Asia, Europe and Australia. Her unique and uncompromising take on history and people, as well as her distinctive and powerful vision, has played an important role in contributing to the cultural re-awakening of her country. In an interview with ArtAsiaPacific, the photographer discusses her art and creative processes, her take on gender in Cambodia and more.
“Flowers,” your most recent exhibition, is currently being showcased in Phnom Penh, but your work has travelled quite a bit across the globe. How do you feel about the fact that your photographs are allowing more people to get to know Cambodia?
Allowing people outside Cambodia to understand the complexity of my country is really important, but I’d actually like my work to serve as a certain reminder for the Khmer people as well. Most Cambodians tend to stick with the traditional culture and perceptions. This includes, for example, that women have to be young and beautiful, or that they have to cook and have children. By drawing attention to these concepts in my work, I try to raise the awareness of viewers and invite them to move forward from these ideas.
This is a preliminary presentation, a kind of show-and-tell, based on writer, curator and artist Zhuang Wubin’s recent book, Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey (NUS Press, 2016). Zhuang’s primary intention is to share with the audience some of the materials that he has accumulated during his decade-long fieldwork relating, directly or indirectly, to the different facets of photographic production during the Cold War period. The aim is to unpack the varying ways in which photography was being mobilised, subject to personal and institutional desires.
This talk is organised in conjunction with the exhibitions “Who wants to remember a war?” and LINES: War Drawings and Posters from the Ambassador Dato’ N. Parameswaran Collection, which features posters, woodcuts and drawings from the French phase of the Indochina war of resistance against the Americans, and drawings and sketches of life and people at the frontlines.
About the speaker
As a writer/curator, Zhuang Wubin focuses on the photographic practices in Southeast Asia. A 2010 recipient of the research grant from Prince Claus Fund (Amsterdam), Zhuang is an editorial board member of Trans-Asia Photography Review, a journal published by the Hampshire College and the University of Michigan Scholarly Publication Office. He has been invited to research residency programmes at Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong (2015) and Institute Technology of Bandung (2013). He is the contributing curator of the biennial Chiang Mai Photo Festival (2015, 2017). Published by NUS Press, Photography in Southeast Asia: A Survey (2016) is his fourth book.
As an artist, Zhuang uses photography and text to visualise the Sinophone communities in Southeast Asia.
“Photographer Captures Intimacy of Daily Life in Cambodia” by Michelle Vachon, 02/05/2017, The Cambodia Daily
When French-Canadian photographer Serey Siv embarked on a project two years ago to photograph ordinary life across small-town Cambodia, his goal was far from simple.
Assuming the role of an observer, he sought to capture the “timeless” side of life in the country: the small episodes in people’s daily lives that could have taken place in the 1960s or on Monday. To better set the photographs out of time, he shot in black and white.
“I played a bit with this notion of past and present,” he said on Friday.
An exhibition of Mr. Siv’s series, “La balade de Serey,” or “Serey’s Stroll,” opens today in Siem Reap City.
It took a year for Mr. Siv to capture the images of daily life, waiting to seize the moments as they happened in the “beautiful natural light” that occurs for only a few hours each day. The result is images in which the gray and black tones make the scenes all the more striking and create a quiet intimacy with the people portrayed, drawing in the viewer.