Category: Ongoing projects

Once upon a time in Cambodia

LAST UPDATE: 23/03/2013

I started this project in June 2012, with the idea of showing the reconstruction of Cambodian cultural life through research and artistic expression of a generation of young artists, whose personal itineraries break predicable destinies, giving voice and form to the new Cambodian identity. During the Khmer Rouge (1975-1979), Cambodia suffered a cultural genocide that ravaged the intellectual and artistic life of the country, installing a gap of lack of identity over an abyss of 2 millions of deaths. The reportage parts from the emotional and social consequences of this loss of identity, not yet restored, and shows the recent resurgence of artistic creativity as a searching mechanism of social coordinates and an opportunity to repair, build citizenship – trying in some case to use art as a way to transmit also political and social messages.

PHNOM PENH

The capital of the kingdom come together languages and trends from different sources. The peculiarity of this location lies in the profile of their creators, many of whom have dual citizenship or have returned to Cambodia for different reasons after a stay in other countries (many of them refugees). An artistic movement with a distinctly urban style, collect the state of search, the intention of renewal and the appropriation of languages that allow direct communication with the city and its inhabitants, such as graffiti, hip hop, metal, oral poetry, or cinema, without waive the Cambodian artistic tradition.

Pen Robit – Visual Artist

06/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Pen Robit, one of most prominent Cambodian visual artist, posing with one of his painting outside his apartment. He graduated at Phare Ponleu Selpak Visual Art School of Battambang in 2010 and now he’s living and working in Phnom Penh.
06/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Pen Robit shows a portrait he made of Pol Pot in his studio/home of Phnom Penh.
06/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Inside the small studio/home of visual artist Pen Robit.
06/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Pen Robit, one of most prominent Cambodian visual artist, paints in his studio/home in Phnom Penh
06/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Pen Robit, one of most prominent Cambodian visual artist, paints in his studio/home in Phnom Penh

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Oeur Sokuntevy – visual artist

07/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Sokuntevy Oeur in her studio in Phnom Penh. She was born in the countryside and she studied at Phare Ponleu Selpak in Battambang where she developed her oil and watercolour painting and pencil skills.
07/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. Sokuntevy Oeur is a female painter from Cambodia who is boldly leading the charge of the country’s emerging women’s art movement.
07/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. One of the latest Sokuntevy’s choice of subjects and her unforgivingly personal approach to issues she sees to be perceived as being the cornerstones of ‘female identity’, family and sexuality, make her a tour de force.
07/03/2013 – Phnom Penh. A close up of one of the latest work of Sokuntevy Oeur.

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Chhay Bora – movie director

Cambodian Director Chhay Bora during the shooting of “3.50”, a Singapore-financed dramatic thriller about human trafficking in Cambodia.
Behind the scene of “3.50”, a Singapore-financed dramatic thriller about human trafficking in Cambodia and co-direct by Chhay Bora.
Cambodian director Chhay Bora resting exhausted in his office, in the last day of shooting of “3.50” – a Singapore-financed dramatic thriller about human trafficking in Cambodia

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Sliten6ix – metal band

06/07/2012 – Phnom Penh. Sliten6ix is a Metal Band from Cambodia. Line up has been completed in Feb 2011. They are a Part of Cambodia Rock & Metal Society and the Cambo HeadBanger.
06/07/2012 – Phnom Penh. Sliten6ix is a Metal Band from Cambodia. Line up has been completed in Feb 2011. They are a Part of Cambodia Rock & Metal Society and the Cambo HeadBanger.

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BATTAMBANG

The last province free from political control of the Khmer Rouge is now one of the local contexts where root some of the visions and creative projects more interesting and genuine in the country. This forced isolation has recently helped the emergence of an artistic movement, genuine and devoid of foreign influence. A key role in the development of the artistic movement in Battambang is the “Phare Ponleu Selpak”school, a Cambodian association born in “Site 2” (one of the refugee camp at the Thai border during the ’80) that uses arts to answer children psycho social needs.

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Phok Sopheap – visual artist

23/06/2012 – Battambang. 2 paintings of Phok Sopheap.
23/06/2012 – Battambang. Phok Sopheap one of the young artists of the Kingdom’s new art capital, Battambang.
23/06/2012 – Battambang. Phok Sopheap one of the young artists of the Kingdom’s new art capital, Battambang.

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Long Kosal – visual artist

24/06/2012 – Battambang. Artist Mao Soviet talking with the local painter Long Kosal. In 2011, Soviet decided to open his own gallery called Make Maek in Battambang and is today a prominent artist and a leading proponent of the art community in Cambodia.
24/06/2012 – Battambang. Close up of one of the Long Kosal’s portrait series.

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Theanly Chov – visual artist

25/06/2012 – Battambang. Theanly Chov, another young painter working in his studio in Battambang.
25/06/2012 – Battambang. Close up of a painting of Theanly Chov, young painter from Battambang.
25/06/2012 – Battambang. Theanly Chov takes most of his inspirations from the Cambodian’s ’60.
25/06/2012 – Battambang. Close up of a Theanly Chov’s painting about deforestation in Cambodia. For this piece, he decided to take inspiration from the world of videogames, a way to better transmit the message to the young generations.

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Ot Veasna – visual artist

22/06/2012 – Battambang. Ot Veasna is maybe one of the most creative painter from “Phare Ponleu Selpak” art school in Battambang. Born in 1980 in Kandal Province in Central Cambodia, Veasna was never given the opportunity of formal education. Raised by his devoted mother after his father abandoned her while she was expecting him, Veasna did not attend school due to his severe hearing impairment, Ot Veasna is completely deaf. As a result of his lack of education he is unable speak, read, write, nor was he ever taught how to sign.
22/06/2012 – Battambang. The mother of Ot Veasna posing in their house just outside Battambang.
22/06/2012 – Battambang.Ot Veasna paints in the kitchen of his house just outside Battambang.
22/06/2012 – Battambang. Ot Veasna is maybe one of the most creative painter from “Phare Ponleu Selpak” art school in Battambang.
22/06/2012 – Battambang. Ot Veasna signs a painting.

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Phare Ponleu Selpak’s school of circus and art.

22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…
22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…
22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…
22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…
22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…
22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…
22/06/2012 – Battambang. “Phare Ponleu Selpak”PPS is a Cambodian association using arts to answer children psycho social needs. One of the most important program is the circus school, that provides teaching in the major disciplines as juggling, acrobatics, aerial acts, clowning, balancing, dancing…

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SIEM REAP

The main center of tourism in the country contains the beauty of Angkor and the roots of Khmer pride to their traditions and cultural past. Its recent art scene incorporate the revision of cultural codes, languages and tools from a local perspective interconnected with other foreign artistic movements and cultural trends. The result is the proliferation of studios and art galleries (1961, Art Deli, Poetry, Hotel de La Paix) that allow the visibility and international diffusion (with the work of Loven Ramos as an entrepenoeur) of the works of many Cambodian artists (as Seckon Leang, Savann Oun and many more).

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Loven Ramos – Artist and entrepreneur

18/06/2012 – Siem Reap. Loven Ramos has been a tireless champion of Cambodia’s nascent art community. The owner of three of Siem Reap’s artistic institutions — 1961, Art Deli and Poetry — Ramos has been instrumental in the promotion of young artists from the country’s west, and is hoping to bank on his recent successes with the recent opening of the ARTillery Cafe in Phnom Penh.
18/06/2012 – Siem Reap. In the purest sense of the word, Loven Ramos’s 1961, is not just an hotel, but also a creative space where one can stay and immerse into a world of artists, poets, musicians and writers.
16/11/2012 – Phnom Penh. Loven Ramos’ performance during the “Prison Break-in”, a event of visual poetry organized in the Java Café of Phnom Penh.

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Savann Oun – visual artist

17/06/2012 – Siem Reap. The young Cambodian artist Savann Oun posing in front of one of his work, exhibited at Art Deli in Siem Reap.

[divider style=”top” ] I hope to have the chance to work more on this project in the next few months, so stay tuned! Thank you very much to all the artists who helped me in this project.

(text by Cova Alvarez and Maria Gallar)

Khmer Krom – The Nowhere People

First used as spies by the CIA during the Vietnam War and later targeted for elimination by Pol Pot’s genocidal regime, Khmer Krom are still victims of numerous human rights violations today. The ones living in Vietnam are being acculturated by Hanoi´s intimidating policies, while others have been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands in the Mekong Delta and pushed to Cambodia where they are not recognized as full citizens. With no place on either side of the border, the Khmer Krom have become the “nowhere people.” 

This is their story.

I started this project in July 2012, when I spent a week as a tourist visiting some of the Khmer Krom communities and Pagodas in the Mekong Delta. At that point, my aim was just to discover and understand a bit better their ways of life, as well as to visit some of Vietnam’s most iconic sites.

As my first contact with the Khmer Krom communities, my encounter with the reality of their lives was only brief and did not leave me enough time to properly investigate the matter, especially how the restrictions applied by the Vietnamese Government affect the Khmer Krom’s life itineraries.

Therefore, I am planning to go back to the area with the support of several international organisations and NGOs..

It is, of course, an ongoing project.

[button align=”center” link=”http://www.fotovisura.com/user/thomascristofoletti/view/khmer-krom-the-nowhere-people” margin=”20″]See the full project proposal on FotoVisura.com[/button]

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Vietnam’s Tra Vinh Province in the heart of the Mekong Delta hosts one of the largest populations of ethnic Khmer in the country. The province has more the 140 Temples and Pagodas.
A Khmer Krom monk in Sam Bua Pagoda, just a few kilometers outside Tra Vinh.
Nuns and monks praying in the Hang Pagoda, just outside Tra Vinh (Vietnam).
Buddhist shrine with portrait of Ho Chi Minh in the Hang Pagoda (Tra Vinh). Khmer Krom monks are required to study Ho Chi Minh’s biography and teach Vietnamese history, with many pagodas maintaining shrines to Ho Chi Minh and displaying Communist Party posters on pagoda walls.
A monk studying in the Koskeoseray Pagoda (Tra Vinh – Vietnam). On the wall a picture of Avalokiteśvaras, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Portrayed in different cultures as either male or female, Avalokiteśvara is one of the more widely revered bodhisattvas in mainstream Mahayana Buddhism, as well as unofficially in Theravada Buddhism.
Young Khmer Krom monks smoking in Sam Bua Pagoda, just a few kilometers outside Tra Vinh.
Vien Minh Pagoda, Ben Tre (Vietnam). An interesting feature of pagoda is the large white statue of Quan The Am Bo Tat (Goddess of Mercy). The pagoda belongs to Mahayana Buddhism, the most important branch in Vietnam.
Interior of a Catholic Church in Can Tho (Vietnam).
Khmer Krom’s members preparing the Wat Mahatup Pagoda for a ceremony.
A monk smoking in the Trá Sat Pagoda nearby Tra Vinh (Vietnam).
Khmer Krom’s members preparing the Wat Mahatup Pagoda for a ceremony.
Khmer Krom’s members during a ceremony in the Wat Mahatup Pagoda, nearby Soc Trang (Vietnam).
Khmer Krom’s members during a ceremony in the Wat Mahatup Pagoda, nearby Soc Trang (Vietnam).
Board with khmer and vietnamese words in the Chanrangsey Pagoda in central Saigon (Vietnam).
The Chinese Ong Pagoda in Can Tho (Vietnam).
Members of the Cham’s community of Chau Doc (Vietnam), preparing food in the last day of the Ramadam.
The Cham’s mosk of Chau Doc (Vietnam).
A Cham’s cemetery in Chau Doc (Vietnam).

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Lethwei: burmese boxe

Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of “Lethwei“, the burmese boxe.

Dates to at least the 11th century, was used by Burmese monks to defend themselves and by warriors to protect the king. It is now a way for young men from Myanmar’s impoverished countryside to fight their way to a better life.

I just spent an afternoon in the arena (and just a few hours in a gym) and I hope to have the chance to came back to Yangon soon and continue with the project.
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Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of Several times a month the “Theinbyu Sports Hall” in Yangon hosts matches of

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