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Phnom Penh Photo 2012 –Ka Xiong

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I am Hmong and grew up in a culture of ceremonies and stories of the spirit world. I started to hear about this spirit world when I was 3 or 4 when the elders would tell us stories to scare us into behaving and not wandering off where we shouldn't. They were good storytellers and I clearly imagined the ghosts and spirits in my mind. It was even scarier when we knew someone in the village had died and we knew that a spirit was out there and we didn't want it to scare or harm us. Recently, coming back from working in the fields I saw shadows in the smoke of a road side fire that distorted the people caught by my headlights. They didn't look real but rather like what I had imagined as the ghost and spirit world. Since then I have worked with those same conditions, dark night away from town with smoke and light, to capture the shadows of people in action to create a feeling in the viewer and trigger their imagination, to lead them in to the world that they cannot see in everyday life, the world that is only in their minds.

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