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Phnom Penh Photo 2012 –Nge Lay


Nge Lay questions the very essence of ‘truthfulness’ in photography through her work that attempts to relate the familiar with the unfamiliar. For “Imagination Sphere”, the technique she employs is simple yet strong, using only two basic elements – a torch light as a primary and unique source of light set against a dark background, and a family portrait an old glass negative – captured with a digital camera. Nge Lay’s art work focuses on the portrait of an unknown deceased old female relation who is unidentifiable to her family, symbolizing “mysterious relatives” that no one can remember. Abstract at first, the images progressively reveal the human form of her unfamiliar relation in a negative format. The artist works on the idea of lost memory with a tinge of irony, where photographs appear to be the only visual sources of memory that no one can really recall This photo light¬box installation mixes three techniques using an old photography, inter-playing of the old with the new, and the historical with the contemporary. In « The Relevancy of Restricted Things », Nge Lay, performing herself behind the mask of her unknown father, emphasizes the importance of the paternal presence at the head of the family. The Relevancy of Restricted Things, with a few rapid frames, depict groups of masked villagers whose dignity, longing, solidarity, frailty and endurance came to the fore as they face the physically and psychologically oppressive life that is the lot of the Burmese today.

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