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From orphanage to National Museum

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As part of the weeklongPhotoPhnomPenh festival, 24-year-old Phar Lina is the first modern Cambodian photographer to exhibit works in the National Museum

THE photographs on the walls of the National Museum are indistinct – a blur of shadows, footprints and memories.

For Phar Lina, the meditative abstractions are representative of his grief over his father’s recent death.

The 24-year-old photographer was part of the way through a project involving abstract impressions of the life and death of chickens at the height of the bird flu epidemic when his father passed away.

It forced him to re-evaluate his work and change direction.

The result is an impressive exhibition – titled “A Sensitive Homage to His Deceased Father” – which opened last Saturday as part of the PhotoPhnomPenh festival.

It is the first time a contemporary Cambodian photographer has shown his work at the National Museum.

“I am really moved and proud,” said festival director Christian Caujolle.
“What he has done is so personal that for him each image has a very precise meaning. He is speaking about life and death, from birth to the end.”

Phar Lina left his family to live in the Kean Khlaing orphanage, where by chance he was given the opportunity to learn some photography.

He is now part of French Cultural Centre’s photo image workshop and also works freelance for The Phnom Penh Post as a photojournalist; readers can often see his images among its pages.

“A Sensitive Homage to His Deceased Father” will be on view at the National Museum through Sunday.

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