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Local, international standouts to open 9th Angkor Photo Festival

The procession carrying the funereal urn of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
The procession carrying the funereal urn of King Father Norodom Sihanouk. Sreng Meng Srun

Local, international standouts to open 9th Angkor Photo Festival

An evening of slideshows including images from King Father Norodom Sihanouk’s funeral and sobering shots of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh opens the ninth Angkor Photo Festival (APF) on Saturday night at FCC Angkor.

The first of eight slideshow evenings taking place throughout the festival, the opening event features 22 different photographers and will be curated by Françoise Callier, starting at 8.30pm.

Anticipated standout images of the evening include the opening slideshow by five Post photographers entitled Funeral of King Father Norodom Sihanouk. There will also be a slideshow by Sheila Zhao, a returning photographer. Based between Beijing and Shanghai, Zhao first participated as a student in the Festival workshops in 2007 and returns every year. She is now a tutor at the Anjali House Children’s Workshops.

The funeral ceremony for King Father Norodom Sihanouk.
The funeral ceremony for King Father Norodom Sihanouk. Heng Chivoan

Taslima Akhter’s Life and Struggle of Garment Workers, Bangladesh is another expected highlight. A Bangladeshi photographer and activist who has campaigned for a decade for labour rights in the garment sector, Akhter’s work went global after the disaster which occurred in April this year.

One photo in particular of two corpses embracing among the rubble was shared heavily on social media. In an interview with the Festival’s Asia Coordinator Jessica Lim a few days after the accident, Akhter said that she felt compelled to show this picture.

“It was taken on the first day, technically on April 25th,” she said.“We were going inside to look for survivors, to see if anyone was still alive. I was there till about 4am, moving around with different groups, working and photographing, trying to help.

Victims of the collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh last April.
Victims of the collapsed garment factory in Bangladesh last April. TASLINA AKHTER

“I saw these two people, holding each other. I couldn’t show the rest of the bodies that were around these two. I don’t know who they are and what their relationship is with each other. Some people ask me, are they husband and wife? It is not so clear whether they are, or if they knew each other. The point is they were trying to save themselves. I don’t know. It is still haunting me.”

For those who might have difficulty with such a graphic image, Akhter said: “I have to show it. I think I need to share this pain with all, with everyone. We are all liable for this, we all have to carry this load.”

APF’s first two exhibitions open on Sunday, with British photographer Martin Usborne’s Mute: The Silence of Dogs in Cars, and Herbie Yamaguchi’s Hatachi No Shokei launching at the McDermott Gallery at 6pm. Complimentary drinks and light bites will be served.

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