Local photographers go beyond borders for new show

This photo of Hampi village in Karnataka, south India, is part of the exhibition. HOLLY BARBER
This photo of Hampi village in Karnataka, south India, is part of the exhibition. HOLLY BARBER

Local photographers go beyond borders for new show

The Center for Khmer Studies’ first photographic exhibition, Beyond Borders, opened last Sunday and features works by five Siem Reap-based. The 50 photos in the show are all taken in different countries and include shots of a refugee camps in the Sahara desert, poppy fields in the Czech Republic and sacred pilgrimage sites in Nepal and south India.

The five snappers taking part are long-term Belgian expat Stéphane de Greef, Czech photographer Anna Bella Betts, Brit Holly Barber, Italian Valentina Chiodi and Kimleng Sang from Takeo Province, who has lived in Siem Reap since 2000. De Greef and Betts say the exhibition came about because the Center for Khmer Studies decided to hold a series of exhibitions in 2014 in the large, leafy grounds of Wat Damnak pagoda where the centre is located. “It was a combination of having photographers who were looking for a place to exhibit their work, and CKS looking into new activities to run in the place,” says de Greef.

“But it’s just not about photographers from abroad who live here,” adds Betts. “It’s more about Cambodian photographers or young artists who want a little bit more of a venue that’s not limiting them in terms of accessibility.”

She feels that some of the venues in high-end hotels are intimidating to some people.

Both feel that CKS is a more accessible and welcoming location which is part of the appeal, drawing in more of a Khmer crowd.

“Normally people just sit, study and chat here, so it’s very open, very Khmer-friendly place,” says Betts. “It’s open to the public, making photography accessible to a wider audience.”

Beyond Borders comprises 10 images from each of the five photographers. Barber has focused on photos from her travels around Nepal, Sri Lanka and India in her collection, First Light on the Subcontinent, showcasing stunning panoramic views of mountains, valleys and temples.

In Hands, Chiodi depicts various people going about their daily lives in Cambodia, Myanmar and India, from the mother embracing her child to the close-up detail of a craftsman engraving a piece of lacquer.

Kimleng Sang brings to life the watery world of the Tonlé Sap in Dteuk (Water), documenting the fishing communities who live on the lake. ​Ceci n’est pas un Pays by de Greef is a photo story shot in southwestern Algerian Sahrawi refugee camps where he was assisting with a census of landmine survivors, while in European Summer Betts explores her home country with nostalgic, sunny images of countryside and city.

“The common point is that we are photographers and we’re living in Siem Reap, but we’re taking photos of five very different subjects,” says de Greef. “We wanted to have as wide as possible a scope of photography all assembled in one place, so that people visiting can see different countries. Cambodian people will discover the desert of Sahara, the agricultural land of the Czech Republic, the mountains of Nepal – all these things that they might not know very well.”

Beyond Borders runs daily until February 2.


  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group