Angkor photo festival kicks off

Angkor photo festival kicks off

121130 05

Passers-by ogle the popular photography installation BlowUp, which has been staged in Bombay, London and Paris. Photograph supplied

The eighth Angkor Photo Festival, which launches tomorrow in Siem Reap, is the biggest yet, with more than1200 bodies of work from 67 different countries - more than half from Asia.

Running until December 8, the festival features indoor and outdoor exhibitions, as well as eight evenings of slideshows at Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor and FCC Angkor, featuring artists from all over the world.

There will also be the usual Anjali House kids’ Photo Workshops, Angkor Photo Workshops for Asian photographers and two slideshows guest-curated by photographers Eddie Marsman and Marco Wiegers from the Netherlands, and Bangladeshi photographer Munem Wasif.

One of the anticipated  highlights of this year’s festival is the popular BlowUp installation, making an appearance for the third year running. Originating in India, the duo behind the project is part of an online photography community called the Blindboys.

The festival’s Asia coordinator Jessica Lim explains, “The idea was to bring photography out of the galleries into the streets and present it to as many people as possible, to the public, in a way that the audience could interact with it in a different way.”

Having staged BlowUp in a number of cities including Bombay, London and Paris, Blindboys decided to exhibit at the Angkor Photo Festival, to great success. The photos are displayed in various public spaces, and at time of press these locations were unknown even to the festival team.

“It’s run entirely by them,” Lim says. “They told me this year they were planning to expand it, perhaps reach out to local high schools and universities.  They also have a mobile projector so they are going to go around and set it up at impromptu places, like a pop-up exhibition.

“The idea is that it’s temporary. We actually had feedback from last year that some guy had gone around stealing pictures that he liked and decorated his entire house,” laughs Lim. “Which is a shame because no one else is going to see it but also very nice because that was the idea – we wanted people to go hunt for what they liked and to be able to touch it. It’s very different from the rest of the festival.”

Festival-goers will be able to pick up the schedule – “a kind of treasure-map” - from the festival HQ at Angkor Photo Café-Gallery.

This year also sees an increased emphasis on Japanese photography, with ten Japanese shutterbugs taking part in the festival, including six from the acclaimed Tanto Temple Gallery in Kobe, who will feature at the McDermott Gallery exhibition opening on  December 2.

“This exhibition is going to be in Japan in February 2013. They are going to show it in collaboration with us,” programme coordinator Françoise Callier says.

Another new development is the festival’s collaboration with two major NGOs, Greenpeace and Médecins du Monde who are exhibiting in the Raffles garden throughout the week.

“The exhibition from Greenpeace was created to be exhibited here at the festival, so this is the first time anyone in the world is going to see it,” says Lim.

“The three photographers are Asian,” adds Callier. “It’s about renewable energy; one story in India, one in China and one in Thailand.”

While this year’s festival has almost double the number of last year’s submissions, the scale does not change the philosophy of the Angkor Photo Festival, Lim says.

“The emphasis has always been on great storytelling. It doesn’t matter what style you use – it could be documentary photojournalism, conceptual - the thing we always look for are amazing stories that are told beautifully through pictures. That’s the most important thing.”

For the full festival programme please visit Angkor Photo Festival's website. For a selection of highlights from the festival, see the photo spread on pages 10-11.