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Spaced-out opening party kicks off photo festival

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The Cambodian Space Project pilot the ‘Cambodian space tuk tuk’ while touring Brittany, France. Photograph supplied

The eighth Angkor Photo Festival is launching with a bang this year, with a grand opening tomorrow night at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor followed by the official party at Asana Wooden House with band Cambodian Space Project headlining.

The evening starts at 8.30pm in the Raffles gardens with opening speeches and introductions to the two organisations exhibiting there, from John Novis, head of photography at Greenpeace and photographer Lâm Duc Hiên from Médecins du Monde.

The festival’s Asia coordinator Jessica Lim says, “It’s meant to be more of a daytime, outdoor exhibition but because they are both going to be there we are just going to introduce them so the photographers who are present will be able to identify and speak to them if they have any questions about the exhibitions.”

Next, the first in a series of eight nightly, outdoor slideshows will be shown, curated by program director Françoise Callier.

They will include some never-before-seen photographs of King Sihanouk by Cambodian photographer Kim Hak, something of an exclusive for the photo festival.

“We are going to have a little tribute to the king at the beginning with photos by Kim Hak, and by French photographer Françoise Demulder who was one of the first ever female photo-journalists, who started her career covering the Vietnam/Cambodian conflict,” says Lim. “We are using her archive pictures of the king when he was returning from exile which is quite cool.”  

The festivities will then continue at Asana for the opening party. Lim is understandably delighted about the inclusion of hip, psychedelic Australian/Khmer band Cambodian Space Project, who were keen to be involved in the festival.

“We actually didn’t think about getting them for the opening, however they were booked up all the other days,” Lim says. “They were really trying to find a way to insert themselves in with the festival, which was a really pleasant surprise and they said, ‘How about we play at your opening’?”

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(L to R) The festival’s Asia coordinator Jessica Lim, general coordinator Camille Plante, director and co-founder Jean-Yves Navel, program coordinator Françoise Callier. Photograph Miranda Glasser

Cambodian Space Project will perform at 10pm and are set to play for two hours.

Sunday sees the first festival exhibitions opening at 6pm at McDermott Gallery Old Market. Portfolio is by Cuban photographer Mario Algaze, while Labyrinth is a group exhibition by six Japanese photographers from the Kobe-based Tanto Tempo Gallery.

“The great thing about this is we actually have Takeki Sugiyama, the owner of Tanto Tempo Gallery who’s going to be here, along with some of the photographers,” Lim says.

“We’re really excited about this because of the collaborative nature of how it was put together. This gallery in Japan is a really modest, humble kind of gallery and the guy who runs it – who’s actually a surgeon - runs it out of passion. When you look at the kind of work they represent you can see that he’s got great taste and he’s not just following the trend. So I’m really exited to meet all of them who are coming.”

After the opening, the slideshow evening will take place at 8.30pm at FCC Angkor, again curated by Callier, followed by a short presentation by John Novis.

The presentation will include images demonstrating the diversity of Greenpeace photography and Jessica Lin says it comprises, “Hard news, reportage, bearing witness, rapid reaction etc, and moving onto renewable energy. This main part will describe the challenge with communicating climate change and will see a show of recent campaigns, up to this year, including a trip to the Arctic and a Russian oil drilling rig. It will conclude with Greenpeace’s fight for global clean energy, using the power of photography.”

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