The 14th annual Angkor Photo Festival, held in Siem Reap Cambodia, features the work of 100 artists from 40 countries – plus talks, portfolio reviews and workshops
“Finding Freedom in the Water”: Students from the Kijini Primary School learn to swim and perform rescues in the Indian Ocean off Muyuni Beach, Zanzibar. Traditionally, girls in the Zanzibar Archipelago are discouraged from learning how to swim, largely because of the strictures of a conservative Islamic culture and the absence of modest swimwear. But in villages on the northern tip of Zanzibar, the Panje Project (panje translates as “big fish”) is providing opportunities for women and girls to learn to swim in full-length swimsuits so they can enter the water without compromising their customs or religious beliefs. Photographer: Anna Boyiazis
“Leaf”: Cambodian photographer Neak Sophal shot her “Leaf” series in the village of Wat Po, in Takeo province, south of Phnom Penh. The images feature teenagers and poor country people with limited education because their school was too far from the rice paddies that provided their living. The leaf masks are meant to convey that the people seem to be in harmony with nature. The masks, taken from banana trees, sugar palms and water lilies, also represent the artist’s anxiety over the state of the countryside’s youth, neglected by the government and forced to leave their homes behind to make a living in the city or abroad.
“Venus Williams”: Scott Thode began photographing Venus Williams in 1988. She was HIV positive, and he documented her daily life until her death in 1997. The images show a life of extremes, a vicious cycle of methadone clinics, shooting galleries, hospital beds and homelessness. But through it all, his pictures showed a fierce vitality. “My photos are a tribute to our friendship,” said Thode.
“Golden City of Boten”: Boten is a town in northern Laos that a Chinese development company signed a 30-year lease on in 2013. It transformed the town into a “Golden City” centred around a casino-hotel that ran for three years before being shut down over criminal activity. Golden City had been touted as a futuristic hub of trade and tourism. It ran on Beijing time, transactions were conducted in Chinese yuan and it was populated mainly by Chinese migrants. Without gambling tourism, other businesses could not survive. Most of the Chinese left, and now only a handful remain, harbouring hope that a change will come and the city will be revived. The deserted Golden City remains a monument to failed urban excess. Photographer: Ore Huiying
Part of the series “Golden City of Boten” by Ore Huiying
“Fishermen”: Roun Ry’s project is about Cambodian and indigenous Vietnamese people who live and fish together on the Tonle Sap lake in Siem Reap, and how they find a way to survive. “I have always been interested in how these people from a mix of two different cultural backgrounds and nationalities work and fish together in the same place even though there has been historical discord between these two countries in the past,” said Roun Ry.
Part of the series “Fishermen” by Roun Ry
“Dancing on Fire”: This is a collection of photographs made from 1986 at the fall of the 30-year regime of the Duvalier family in Haiti until the election of former Catholic priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1990, marking the first democratically-elected government in Haiti in decades. The series is about the hoped-for rebirth of a nation that fell short of its goal but more importantly about how Haitians see themselves. Photographer: Maggie Steber
“Dalit: A Quest for Dignity”: The struggle for dignity fundamentally shapes the Dalit experience in Nepal. The caste system works by maintaining material inequality between the upper castes and lower castes, and also by making honour and humiliation parts of everyday life. Official bans on caste discrimination have proven weak against the legacy of the brutality against Dalits in Nepali social life. Dalits struggle to break the identity of untouchability that the upper castes thrust on them. Since the start of the democratic movement in Nepal, Dalit activists (including T. R. Bishwakarma, shown here in Kathmandu in 1963) have worked to create a space from which their exclusion from public life can be challenged. The quest for basic human dignity is central to their movement. Dalit identity stands for the values of equality, respect and social justice. Photographer: Mithai Devi Bishwakarma
“The Past Is Never Dead”: The artist on his series: “I was at Charlottesville on August 12th . Since then, I have been photographing the hate that was on display and how it has played out in the rest of the country. I plan to continue looking at it and… how it is part of America’s past as well as the present, the Civil War which never ended… I am shooting more in colour now [to] bring the focus on the present. I am leaving the street battles [and] going to the homes and communities where people hold onto their hate and traditions, passing them on to their children… I am exploring how history and myth [are] used to promote racism. I will look at this Civil War that is still raging in the hearts and minds of America.” Photographer: Mark Peterson
Part of the series “The Past Is Never Dead” by Mark Peterson
Untitled: Cambodian photographer Chhin Taing Chhea was born in 1983 in Takeo province. He studied painting at the Royal University of Fine Arts in Phnom Penh. After graduating in 2006, he picked up a camera, and went on to exhibit his work in and outside of Cambodia. He has taught art at the Royal University of Fine Arts since 2009.
“Bokor”: The artist on his series: “Bokor used to be a paradise to escape to during the French colonial era in Cambodia, and it was a vacation destination for Cambodian royal families as well. They used to have royal residences, a Catholic church, a luxury hotel, the biggest casino in the country and even European-style cow farms. It was turned into a military base during the political unrest, and was one of the [longest-held] camps of the Khmer Rouge before their fall. Bokor is mysterious, it’s both a great place to visit but haunting through generations.” Photographer: Chan Vitharin
“Before the Roofless Mall”: The artist on his series: “These are a few photographs from the New York I remember, a harsh, cruel city full of energy, expectation and possibility. When I first picked up a camera in the late 1980s and began photographing Tompkins Square Park and the city around me, it seemed as if there were pictures everywhere… Do I miss a more vibrant, unpredictable, affordable New York, or just my place in it as a young man?” Photographer: Andrew Lichtenstein
“Venezuela Crisis”: Venezuela explodes on 3 May 2017 after President Nicolás Maduro announces plans to revise the nation’s democratic system by consolidating legislative powers for himself. Clashes between protesters and the national guard break out, with protesters, many wearing hoods, masks and gas masks, lighting fires and hurling stones. José Víctor Salazar Balza was set alight when the gas tank of a motorbike exploded. He survived with first- and second-degree burns. This image was the 2018 World Press Photo of the Year. Photographer: Ronaldo Schemidt
The festival is held in Siem Reap, Cambodia and runs between the 8 – 18 December. For more information, visit the website here.
This article was published in the December 2018 edition of Southeast Asia Globe magazine. To subscribe to our newsletter, click here.