For the fourth consecutive year, PhotoPhnomPenh is offering a program of significant exhibitions to increase and pursue deeper the Europe-Asia dialog on the work of young creators. It is our good fortune that, thanks to the Institut français du Cambodge, we can look back on what we have achieved and also forward to a fifth edition, taking stock of all the practices – all different – but all driven by the same search for excellence and a desire for knowledge of the other.
Last year, by moving part of the programming to the campus of the Royal University of Phnom Penh, where the architecture of Vann Molyvann served as a splendid setting for a number of exhibitions and screenings, we were able to reach the student population – the future of Cambodia – whose enthusiasm encourages us to do even better this year. The possibilities open to us by buildings and spaces offered by the Ministry of Culture, as well as those made available to us by the generosity of private individuals, allowed us to offer, once again, a vast, diverse, and inclusive program conveying current research in photography. One of the greatest pleasures of PhotoPhnomPenh is the fact that big names from the international scene can interact on an equal footing with talented young Cambodian beginners. It’s amazing to discover a new Cambodian photography that is often surprising, emerging from the unpretentious Studio Images, directed by French and Cambodian professionals whose sole concern is to allow expression. This surprise, this richness, are perhaps the best way of estimating the progress accomplished in so little time: four years ago, it was not easy to put together the Cambodian element of the festival; this year, we have had to ask some of them to work for one more year, so that they will be able to show the best of themselves. And we can do this, because we know that they will give everything they are capable of, and that they will astonish us.
As usual, there is no dominant theme to the festival, only a dialog of perspectives, even if – a sign of the times, perhaps – color photography is dominant, in all its modalities. It is also for this reason that this year we have added an element of training in digital processing of the image by exhibiting the work of an artist who is one of the best specialists in the area. He will give support to the photographers and to the laboratories. An important part of our mission is to allow anyone to go until the end of the chain of expression, and to be as demanding as possible is also a part of our mission.
Again, as is our custom, music will accompany some of the projections: the clarinet of Louis Sclavis will dialog with the instruments of young Cambodian interpreters; and, again, The Night of the Year will offer its screens to the greatest possible audience in an outdoor setting. Six magical boats with their screens will, ply the waters of the Tonlé Sap river, displaying their images to people on the riverfront.
For the first time, we will exhibit the work of Cambodian children who will meet one another and discover what exactly an exhibition is: some of them come from provincial villages and the others live in a small neighborhood in Phnom Penh where the festival has attracted much attention for the last two years. It is they, as well, who will encourage us to keep our eyes wide open.