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Bali’s dangerous beauty at Angkor Photo Festival

121203_19a
An Indonesian fisherman hauls in his catch, as seen in Indra Widi’s photo collection Thanks for Today. Photograph: Indra Widi/Phnom Penh Post

Indonesian photographer Indra Widi spent a day at sea in the blazing Balinese sun accompanying a group of fishermen for a new collection that goes on show in Siem Reap tonight, the second exhibition to open at the Angkor Photo Festival.

The resulting collection, Thanks for Today, a series of striking black and white portraits of the men, is intended to contrast the beauty of the images with the unseen difficulties of the fishermen’s lives.

“The silhouettes are very dramatic,” said Asia co-ordinator Jessica Lim. “But what was interesting was hearing Indra’s interpretation of the pictures.”

Bali-based Widi acknowledges that the aesthetics of his pictures belie the daily hardships the men go through.

“There is great beauty in the moment when fishermen unload their catch of the day from the sea,” he said.

“That beauty, however, does not continue when one sees the money they receive for their catch. The rigorous labour needed to go out to sea under the blazing sun, risking their lives on the waves – this too was not as beautiful as the silhouettes their bodies cast upon my camera.”

In the heat, the men would joke with him. “Don’t photograph my face – I haven’t showered all day.”

The fishing was very dependent on the weather, they told Widi. “While working on the nets, a mother turned to me and said: ‘Yes, we make enough to buy cigarettes for the father and to pay for our children to go to school. But if we get bad weather like this again, we will just have to survive on air.’”

“I think the title of the exhibition is also quite interesting. Thanks for Today – it gives nothing away,” said Lim. “It shows how much thought has gone into these very simple looking pictures – the way that he wants to portray it as a tribute of sorts to the fishermen and their hard work.”

Thanks for Today is showing at Angkor Photo Gallery until January 30, 2013.

Later tonight, a slideshow night will take place at FCC Angkor, presented by guest curators Eddie Marsman and Marco Wiegers.

Co-curator Wiegers says the duo looked for images focusing in on one small subject.

“We tried to see if we could find a set of photographers that could sink their teeth into one small thing, whether it be a place or a subject, but just have it as small and as intimate as possible.”

Images include works from young New York photographer Pieter Henket, best known for his cover photo for Lady Gaga’s The Fame album.

The slideshow contains shots from his Interrogation Project celebrity sequence, featuring Sir Ben Kingsley and Mary Kate Olsen.

“What he did was put all these celebrities behind a table in a police interrogation setting, and he asked all of them to try and imagine being interrogated, and what would their reaction be,” explained Wiegers.

“He got them to interact with the camera, so you have these people almost climbing over the tabletop.

“So these are quite different, they’re not glamour shots, so to speak, but very forward and kind of amazing how he got the co-operation of all these people.”

The 45-minute slideshow starts at 8.30pm and comprises 500 images from 15 different photographers.

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