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Photo Phnom Penh: “Learn how to read and understand images”

Photo Phnom Penh is back and, with the support of the volunteers, the Association is happy and proud to continue its work of showing, supporting, sharing and discussing contemporary photography.

We continue in the same direction, convinced that images – and photography is part of all the system of images we are surrounded by – are a real and daily challenge. For each moment and also for our future. Today, at each moment, billions of images are produced, essentially with more and more sophisticated mobile phones and they are, directly, sent and shared. We are at a moment when it’s impossible to see, to read, to understand so many images. And the world seems to be impossible to see because too many representations are proposed all the time to our eyes, more and more tired. It is also because things go faster and faster. Images too. And they become something we forget after a quick look. That’s the reason why it’s everyday more important to learn how to “read” and understand images. If not they will be either just a game, fun (but why not), either a manner of manipulating our visions of the world.

Early in the thirties, a European philosopher, Walter Benjamin, wrote that “tomorrow's illiterates will be those who cannot read images”. Are we at this point? Maybe. We find normal to learn at school the alphabet, to be able to read the texts, to write and express ourselves. When the daily contact with the images becomes a fact for everyone, teaching to children – but also to their parents and to everyone- about images becomes a necessity for the society. That’s the reason why Photo Phnom Penh, from the beginning considered the month of the festival as part of an educational project. Thanks to all whom, this year, made possible for the first time an exhibition inside a college. The presentation of the photos of animals by Eric Pillot at Preah Sisowath High School will open many possibilities for education. And we hope it will be the first step of a development in the next years.

Bringing foreign photographers, from Asia and from Europe, permitting them to meet and to exchange points of views and experiences, permitting them to experiment with different publics that the ones they have in their countries is also one of the functions of Photo Phnom Penh. And it’s what has permitted, and continues to permit, that young Cambodian people, after discovering works, after being amazed or moved by images, decide to create themselves photographs they would like to show to other people to share visions and emotions. And we are every year more happy to present new proposals by new Cambodian artists or by some who already known.

Showing works in Koh Pich, in the public space, in a symbolic place of the new Phnom Penh today’s meeting spot for the youth is also a manner of insisting on the fact that we want to share, to allow discovery, to provoke and encourage discussions. For everyone.

Photo Phnom Penh is back, the same in a certain way because of it’s basis and convictions, and always different because the artists of the program are never the same and each of them proposes new things, new discoveries.

Please, just look – that’s the most important – share, and enjoy.


Christian Caujolle

An independent curator, Christian Caujolle worked formerly as director of photography at Libération, founded the agency and gallery VU’. He also teaches at the École Nationale Supérieure Louis Lumière in Paris. He is the artistic director of the festival Photo Phnom Penh.


Photo Phnom Penh
October 21 to November 21, 2017
Phnom Penh, Cambodia