LAST night’s debut exhibit opening at the Angkor Photo Gallery featured a special tribute to a young United States-born Bangkok-based Japanese photographer who died in late March.
The 32-year-old photographer AK Kimoto, a former IT specialist, was just beginning to make a name for himself and was on his way to Fremantle, Australia, for the FotoFreo Festival when he died of a heart attack.
Last night’s tribute to him, photos from his Opium Addiction in Badakshan series, was selected as a homage by his friend and fellow photographer Kosuke Okahara.
Kosuke was present at the opening, as were Kimoto’s parents.
Two Laotian photographers Sinxay Thavixay and Yaxengly also exhibited their work, but the highlight of the exhibition was the photography by a rising star from Mali, Mohamed Camara.
In November 2005, Camara exhibited at the Tate Modern in London, and the gallery had this to say about his work: “Mali has a long photographic tradition, which emerged in the 1930s in commercial studios specialising in posed portraits.
“A later generation of artists, inspired by photo-journalism, introduced movement and a sense of spontaneity into their work. Camara, familiar with this tradition through magazines and television, combines elements of these approaches, creating pictures that are very staged and planned, yet appear to capture natural moments in time.”
His photos on display in Siem Reap are a continuation of his series Chambres Maliennes, which was shown at the Tate.
Because they are staged, or posed, and because Camara uses only natural lights, composition is a key element and the super realistic photos resemble painted masterpieces.
The need to purposefully pose the photos was borne out of necessity, because Camara discovered that Malian people did not like photos being taken of them candidly. Camara began taking photographs in 2001 in Bamako, the capital of Mali, after having been given a camera by writer Antonin Potoski, who was working for the Photographic Biennale of Bamako at the time.
Through a translator, Camara told The Post that because many Malian people didn’t want him taking pictures of them, he felt the work he was doing wasn’t good or focused enough, and he gave back the camera.
Potoski advised him to work with his intimate circle of friends and family, which made a big difference, as he was much more comfortable shooting them. “I changed my mind about the goal of being a photographer,” he said, forgetting about the money aspect and only thinking about imagining scenes and making them happen.
He said it was a big opportunity for him to share his work and views with artists from other continents in Siem Reap. And he is thinking of a new series to reflect his warm Cambodian welcome.