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Fear behind the scenes of a war photographer

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MATTHIAS Bruggmann, a freelance photographer for publications such as Paris Match and Time, has travelled the world capturing images of areas in turmoil.

His exhibition at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Arts Plastiques at #37 Street 63 this week as part of Photo Phnom Penh  is divided into two parts. One is dedicated to the not very media-friendly Somali conflict. “It’s been four years that I am one of the only Westerners to work in Somalia over the long term,” he explained.

The young photographer, who lives and works in Lausanne, Switzerland, is not looking for any particular angle while shooting. He only wants to play with codes, to explore the boundaries of the documentary form and the stories that he finds. Another part of his exhibition is dedicated to the other conflicts he has covered since 2003: Iraq and Haiti.

In Iraq, he illegally entered the country and saw a different war from what embedded photographers covered, spending three weeks with civilians.

But Bruggmann insists he is not suicidal. His aim is to minimise the risks. “Fear is always present, but I am also in a privileged situation. I can leave the country when I decide to, which is not the case for the civilians,” he said.

“I am not looking for risks, it’s just that I have no other choices,” he added. His pictures reflect a particular distance which seems to be his hallmark.

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