Photos and Stories in Progress
I had a chance to shoot at Sovanna Phum recently, a great place to see Apsara and other traditional arts in Phnom Penh every Friday night at 7:30. Most of the performers are studying at the Royal University of Fine Arts.
I always appreciate the energy and color, and since I have a good relationship with them (having helped out in various ways over the years), I’m allowed backstage and don’t have to pay. My favorite performances blend art forms — Apsara, shadow puppets, and circus elements — with hints of modern style. I was pleased to hear some contemporary sounds coming from the traditional orchestra this time as well. It’s great to preserve traditions, and good to keep them alive, too.
These are the guys who can help make your tuk-tuk as good as new again. See the black and white version below.
I’ve been busy lately doing things that I hope will have a positive impact here in Cambodia. I’m working on a video project that will educate people about alternative care strategies for orphans and vulnerable children beyond orphanages and children’s centers. There is a rising call in the developing world to move away from institutions toward family based care, and I want to help educate people about the options. I hope to have the video ready by the end of the summer.
I took this shot while I was out gathering scenes of life in Phnom Penh. For some time I have wanted to photograph Cambodians at work at all levels. Cambodia has been cast as a country of endless corruption and poverty, but my overall impression is one of hard work and honesty.
Sovanna Phum, in Phnom Penh, is one of the venues keeping the traditional art of shadow puppets alive and well in Cambodia. As you can see in my portfolio and other posts, the artists at Sovanna Phum make their own small and large shadow puppets. In fact, Kosal, the director, is perhaps the leading master of this art in the country. I took all these photographs at a recent performance of small shadow puppets.
Past the pond and brooding tree
cross the sand and clay muck
where oxen wander
in brush caverns
and gather sticks
from a paddy, baked
lash bundled heaps and enter
water brown as skin
cool as coffee
on a long morning
and float under a brooding tree
and Cambodian sun