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Festival blowup as Blindboys arrive

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THE Blindboys are in town to BLOWUP Angkor as part of Siem Reap’s Angkor Photo Festival, and yesterday they were involved in a bit of blow up about where they were posting photographs.

The Blindboys, who describe themselves as an “online, community-driven photo commune”, are engaging in what they call “a photographic intervention on the streets of Siem Reap”.

Cutting through the jargon, they are a group of young photographers who act similarly to graffiti artists – but instead of painting, they post photos at locations across town. And this, they said, got them into a spot of bother yesterday.

They said they were putting up photos in the small lane, which houses Miss Wong Bar, when an influential resident phoned the police.

They said the situation was sorted by police, however and the posting of photos was still going ahead. Akshay Mahajan from The Blindboys said despite this, there were not a lot of problems with venues declining to have work on display. He said more had cooperated than not.

Beginning yesterday, The Blindboys posted pictures on various walls around town. The pictures will be left there and at more locations until Sunday.

Mahajan said there were more than 700 photographs that would be displayed over the week-long period with about 31 photographers involved so far.

He said submissions were still open and hoped more Khmer locals would enter. There are no set criteria for photographers to submit their work to be put up.

BLOWUP is a concept that returns to Siem Reap. According to Mahajan, it all started during the 2008 Angkor Photo Festival, when late-night discussions were held about problems facing young Asian photographers, including lack of funding and not enough places to showcase their work.

Mahajan said the aim of BLOWUP was to start something new and fresh. He said it was the first of its kind in the region and was easy to set up.

He said they were not worried if the pictures were taken away by onlookers and expected this to happen, because the displays were generally unmanned.

It was just important to have everyday people looking at the photos and commenting on them in a less formal forum, such as in an art gallery, he explained.

BLOWUP Angkor is not an official part of the Angkor Photo Festival, but Mahajan said the photo festival organisers loved the idea and people gave positive responses in general.

Angkor Photo Festival assistant coordinator Amber Maitland had her work was displayed yesterday in Old Market near D’s Books, saying she was very excited about the display. She said her work was a travel journal of her trip around India.

Maps of where to find the photos are distributed around Siem Reap.

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