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Women of Cambodia: dream and reality

Women of Cambodia: dream and reality


Dreams of achievement, Sarik Art concedes, are not specific to Cambodian women, but

he believes: "Here, perhaps, they [must] dream more than in other countries."

He is speaking about the subjects in his latest exhibition of photographs and prints,

"Dream and Reality", which examines the often difficult lives and dream-like

hopes of young Cambodian women today.

"They work hard," he says, "and they dream of being rich, beautiful,

and having a good marriage."

The artist is perhaps better known as Chak Sarik, the former Funcinpec governor of

Kandal. His experiences as a member of the Sihanoukist resistance in Cambodia's turbulent

past make him well-suited to comment on aspirations, because he is at last living

a dream of his own: practicing photography in a country at peace.

The theme of the exhibition came to Sarik when he realized that many young Cambodian

women work at jobs that were unknown here in the sixties and early seventies. He

saw that while they work hard in this "new life", there is often little

financial reward.

He decided to document their working lives, and took pictures of women engaged in

such activities as singing, dancing, working in factories, giving massages, and selling

oranges. Several women were also photographed in his studio in Takmau, shown as they

want to be seen.

While pleased with the reception of his exhibition, he is somewhat disappointed that

more Cambodians have not come to see his photographs. Those who have visited told

him they were "glad somebody started to show not only how beautiful Cambodian

women are, but also how hard they work and how much they dream".

"I hope that more Cambodians come here and appreciate it, if possible,"

Sarik says. "Maybe I can thank them for accepting that I take their pictures."

ï Dream and Reality an exhibition by Sarik Art. At Irina's Gallery, 7 St 228 till

April 15.

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