At Angkor Photo Festival, Community Takes The Center Stage
Chris van Laak／以群眾為中心的吳哥攝影節
「對攝影師來說，連結非常的重要。」吳哥攝影節暨工作坊（Angkor Photo Festival & Workshops）總監林登麗（Jessica Lim）在開幕致詞中，回應前來參與的人群。活動舉辦的小鎮位於柬埔寨最具盛名的吳哥窟旁邊，會場附近遍布新殖民法式建築。一年一度的吳哥攝影節和吳哥攝影工作坊已舉辦14屆，是亞洲歷史最悠久的攝影節慶；即便地點偏遠，良好的口碑仍吸引亞洲攝影師每年前來共襄盛舉。
來自柬埔寨暹粒的Roun Ry是位專業攝影師。除了拍攝商業作品之外，他也以家鄉傳統生活方式去發展與社會和環境相關的議題。他的攝影職涯從2011年的兒童工作坊開始，現在他也是吳哥工作坊的導師。藉由攝影節，開啟了他與編輯和策展人之間的連結，並有機會與像路透社（Reuters）、世界新聞攝影基金會（World Press Photo Foundation）這樣的專業機構交流、討論他的作品。對Roun來說，攝影節「激勵年輕攝影師去深入探討並更上層樓」。
“For photographers, community is now more important than ever.” The opening words of Jessica Lim, director of Angkor Photo Festival and Workshop, resonated with the crowd that had gathered around the lavish French neocolonial architecture of the Cambodian town close to the famous temples of Angkor Wat. The annual Angkor Photo Festival and Workshop is in its 14th edition, which makes it the longest running festival of its kind in Asia, - it has established itself very well in the schedules of professionals all over the continent despite its remote location.
But the photographers, editors, curators and other professionals, who visit the festival most recently, know that doing their jobs might be more difficult, even more dangerous than ever. Some high profile photographers have been arrested and detained for unusual long times recently : Shahidul Alam of Bangladesh has recently been released on bail on 11/20 after he had spoken out in favor of protesting students and therefore spent more than 100 days in prison – as his statement was deemed “provocative” and therefore punishable under Bangladeshi laws.
Many of the professionals involved in the festivals events and exhibitions which run for 10 days in early December have been involved in campaigns demanding Alam's release – now many express relief that their friend is free.
Depending on the location and subject of their work, journalists and photographers are exposed to more or less of a risk, but here, where people come together annually, the ones involved feel relief in a strong community. It is a place for exchange of ideas and solutions to problems – a forum that many professionals don't find in their countries with a lesser developed journalistic infrastructure.
From its beginning in 2005 the festival has been working on filling that void in Cambodia. And still today the focus is not as much on showcasing works, as it is on exchange between professionals and aspiring professionals. “Diversity is crucial for us.” described Jessica Lim. “Young photographers from all over Asia join our festival and then become our ambassadors in their countries. We hope we will get more workshop applications from Taiwan in the future”, she added.
Besides a weeklong workshop for aspiring professionals, the festival also runs workshops for local children between the ages 6 and 16.
Roun Ry of Cambodia is a professional photographer based in Siem Reap. He shoots commercial assignments, but he also covers social and environmental issues, as well as traditional lifestyles in his home province. His career started as a participant in the children's workshop in 2011. Now he is also a teacher in the workshop and sees the festival as an occasion to connect with editors and curators, to show and discuss his work in Portfolio Review events with professionals of institutions such as Reuters or the World Press Photo Foundation. For Roun, the festival “encourages and pushes young photographer to go deeper and understand more”.
The festival also showcases a small, but eclectic selection of photographic works. Huiying Ore's photos were displayed in an outdoors exhibition along the Siem Reap River that meanders through the city center catching the eyes of tourists and locals alike. In her works she documents the small town of Boten in Northern Laos. The Chinese investors had promised 1.5 billion for further developments in a casino resort there. As this kind of gambling is illegal in China, the town at the Laotian border was supposed to become a paradise for fortune and adventure seeking Chinese in which even all clocks are set to Chinese time. Eventually the Chinese investors must have lost interest in the project, leaving the town with half finished tourist infrastructure and local businesses without customers.
The festival doesn't follow a political agenda, but it showcases art that speaks truth to power and requires an environment of freedom of artistic expression. Even though this freedom is challenged in many countries in Asia as well as worldwide, Angkor still finds an environment to thrive in an unlikely place. For Jessica Lim, global issues need to be addressed, as “rejecting universal values and denouncing them for example as Imperialist Western is just a stupid argument”.
Cambodia is ranked 142th in the Freedom of Press Index, freedom of expression is “drastically curtailed” under a government that doesn't allow an independently operating political opposition. Still with it's international outlook combined with a focus on a local audience, the festival manages to stay relevant.
The festival has grown over the years, but it still needs to adapt to an ever changing environment, for example funding has to be secured from a multitude of sponsors, prints have to be made in a country that that still has little experience in professional printmaking. Still in recent years Cambodia has developed in many sectors and professionalism many industries with the help of Chinese investments.
Siem Reap offers world class accommodation far beyond the budget of the ordinary visitors to Angkor Photo festival. Nowadays more and more Chinese tourists visit the city and the famous temples for a short luxury vacation and Cambodia is glad to cater their very specific needs. Between Cambodia and China there is cooperation in all sectors and as of late especially also in politics and administration. Francoise Callier, who initiated the festival in 2005, observes the developments: “For China Laos is already done, Cambodia is next.”
The governments of Cambodia and China moving closer together might have impact on institutions such as the Angkor Photo Festival. While the organizers cooperate with local Cambodian authorities and censorship is not directly an issue, at similar festivals in China the situation is much different. At the Lianzhou Foto festival which started last December, curators had to negotiate with censors until the last minute and significant works, such as iconic fashion photos by Erwin Blumenfeld had to be pulled from the show due to some very late changes in the opinion of the censorship authority.
At the Angkor photo festival, one evening of slideshow projections is reserved for the works of contemporary Chinese documentary photography – an event that has been part of the festival for many years and is curated by Wang Xi this year. The festival has been cooperating with Chinese artists and journalists since early on and few, but high profile Chinese professionals are part of the community that gathers here.
Lu Guang, who has been member of the team of curators at Angkor in 2010, was missed dearly in the festival’s most recent edition. In early November 2018 Lu Guang was abducted by the authorities in the Western Chinese Province of Xinjiang. Only recently his detainment has been confirmed by the police without reasons given. His photos are still shown in the slideshows and his detainment is discussed among visitors to the festival.
The professionals gathered in Siem Reap in December work on different subjects and in different countries, but many feel like they are struggling together.
Veejay Villafranca who works on environmental refugees on the Philippines, in an environment where extrajudicial killings of journalists happen frequently is convinced that journalists have to speak truth to power : “We will not spoon-feed the public with what governments want. It is important that we journalists know that we have each other's backs”.
申請與選取標準和要求： 申請者必須是亞洲國籍並有經驗的學生或專業攝影師。 工作坊將以英文進行。 參與者必須自備數位相機及筆記型電腦。 參與者必須會使用基礎的照片編修軟體。
費用： 免申請費，免工作坊學費。 提供2019年11月27日到12月7日的住宿。 參與者需自行規劃到柬埔寨吳哥窟的旅程。 不提供簽證及轉乘費用。
Application Opens 1st May 2019 Deadline: 30th June 2019, 5pm (GMT+7) Application results will be announced by mid-August 2019.
ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA & REQUIREMENTS
- Applicants must be either a student OR a professional photographer of Asian nationality with limited professional experience.
- The workshop will be conducted in English.
- Participants will have to bring their own digital DSLR camera and laptop.
- Participants should be able to use basic photo editing software (eg: Lightroom, Photoshop, Aperture etc.)
- The workshop is tuition-free, with no application fee.
- Accommodation will be provided from 27th November – 7th December 2019. (Checkout on 8th December)
- Participants have to make their own travel arrangements to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- Visa fees and transport expenses are not provided.
1. BRIEF CV / RESUME 吳哥攝影節與工作坊For Students:
- Course and institution of study
- Expected year of graduation
- Any previous photography workshops/internships/courses attended
- Details on current and previous professional experience (including freelance and internships)
- Any previous photography workshops/internships/courses attended
2. PERSONAL STATEMENTWe want to get to know you better. Tell us about your experience with photography, and why you would like to attend our workshop. (Maximum 250 words).3. PORTFOLIO SUBMISSIONYour portfolio of work should reflect your vision and style as a photographer.
- Filename: All images should include your full name. (Eg: Amy_Tan_001.jpg)
- Number of images: Minimum 12 – Maximum 20 photos per portfolio
- Image Size: 2,000 pixels on longer side / 72dpi / JPG format / Medium quality (8)
[ Optional: You may choose to upload one additional file with text or caption information in the following formats: .doc, .docx, .pdf ]