After 13 years, the Phnom Penh Photo Festival still adheres to the principle of being a platform for the exchange of experiences between European and Asian artists.

This year’s art exhibitions are organised by the Phnom Penh Photo Association and the French Institute of Cambodia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, the EU Delegation to Cambodia, the French Embassy in Cambodia and Phnom Penh City Hall.

This year, 43 artists will exhibit their finest work at several venues across Phnom Penh from October 27 to November 27. Free screenings of handpicked foreign films will also be held at the festival’s partner cinemas.

Khun Vannak, communications officer of the Phnom Penh Photo Association, described his personal favourite exhibit of the festival.

“For me, this year’s highlight is a photographic display of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk on the wall of the French Institute of Cambodia. This year is the 100th centenary of his birth, so it makes sense to feature him.

“A total of 43 photographers are showing this year, including 35 foreigners and eight Cambodians.

“Each artist will feature in just one show, with the exception of Cambodian-French photographer Jean-Baptiste Phou, who has a solo show, while also appearing in a group exhibition.

“Thanks the support of the EU, 100 tuk-tuks will also be employed in this year’s festival. Fifty have been used to transport the works to their venues, while 50 will be used to transport visitors during the opening week of the festival. All of them bear signage promoting the event’s programmes,” Vannak said.

Venues for the festival include the French Institute of Cambodia, Bophana Centre, Sra’Art Gallery, Java Cafe Tuol Tompoung Art Gallery, the walls of the French Embassy and F3 – the Friends Future Factory.

Christian Caujolle, artistic director and founder of the festival, said: “In addition, our team has organised a project called ‘Intersection’, which will feature four young female photographers, Ten Borey and Mech Sereyroth from Phnom Penh, and Hann Enong and Sok Rina from Siem Reap.

“They will work together on the same topic – ‘Food and Nutrition’. The results will be displayed during the opening week of the festival and will then be shown in Siem Reap.”

Born in 1993 and trained at the Studio Images of the French Institute, Ten Borey works in a commercial studio in Phnom Penh, while developing her personal projects.

Mech Sereyrath, who was born the same year, received her bachelor’s degree in media management from the Department of Media and Communications at the Royal University of Phnom Penh in 2018.

Her first body of work was called Contemporary Breath, and it became a milestone on her journey as a visual storyteller. She has since created many photo series, including My Neighbouring Space, Voice of Women and Element. Her work has been exhibited in Japan, Thailand and France.

Born in 1993 in Siem Reap town, Hann Enong is creative designer at SAHAT, an entrepreneurial platform in Siem Reap. She learnt photography from her father and practices it as a mode of expression, both of her intimate feelings and her reactions to the world around her. Also an amateur painter, she has participated in many projects.

Born in 1988 and based in Siem Reap, Sok Rina, whose father was a wedding photographer, wanted to be a photographer from a very early age. She has achieved her dream, and opened Kravan Photography, which allows her to pursue many activities in the medium, both cultural and commercial.

“Their work will link with recent unpublished creations by Jean-Baptiste Phou – whose square black and white self-portraits remain a novelty on the country’s stage – with the views of the city at dusk of Channal Sean, and with the colour self-portraits of Vannak Khun in the empty city during lockdown.

“This year, the Swiss Confederation will occupy the space of F3, in the heart of the capital. With 10 artists, some famous, some very young, and with an original presentation that showcases the great tradition of Swiss graphic design, it will be a great opportunity to observe the diversity of today’s practices in the field. An evening screening of Swiss art videos will also feature at the venue,” said Caujolle.

The Frenchman offered his thanks to all those whose efforts had the event possible.

“Thanks to Marie Le Mounier and Beat Streuli for having conceived, curated and achieved this project with the support of Pro Helvetia.

“Conferences, portfolio reviews, tuk-tuk tours of the exhibitions – as well as three night time screenings of curated films – round out the festival programme. We will begin with a tribute to Ukrainian artists, followed by a set of works around the topic of ‘Birds’ by 12 photographers from all over the world. We will also show, for the first time, the 12 shortlisted photographers of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

“All our thanks go first of all to the artists and to the French Institute – Paris and Phnom Penh – who have been faithful partners since the first year of the festival.

“To the Delegation of the European Union in Cambodia, to the private galleries and venues, to the Michel Rein gallery from Paris, to our printers and framers, and to all the volunteers without who the festival could not take place, we offer our gratitude.

“All of them have helped us to remain faithful to our commitment to exchange and diversity,” Caujolle said.