Monday, February 20, 2017

Myths and Bodies in Angkor

No rest for the wicked I hear myself chime : ) With a sprained knee from performing at the MAP festival (Melaka Art & performance festival) my head was still reeling from the finale performance Eulogy of Living, a week after my dear grandmother of 100 years was laid to rest.

I came to the workshop with an idea of working with disable bodies and Apsara dancers. There was also a big goal of taking pictures of another person’s body as I felt my photography was becoming insular ever since I turned the camera onto myself.

The workshop only start the day after I arrived but there was a get together with all the participants and instructors. We got to know each other through a slideshow of our works. Sohrab got us rounded up and prepared us for the next day. We were to write about what photography meant to us.

of the workshop, Sohrab Hura and a psychologist greeted us and we spent about a full day doing a think through. We had a one on one session with the psychologist and the question that struck me was

“ What is it that you are hiding from yourself?”
“Err if I am hiding it how would I know?”

DAY 2 & 3
Ready to take photos of Apsara dancers. The first 2 days was spent taking pictures of Apsara dancers in training.  As I watch and photographed the contortions and tension in the little movements that 
gave way to the sensual poses of the dance, a though struck. 
How much of what we believe in our minds affects our physical self. 

The belief that the Apsara dancers who are celestial nymphs mask the reality that they were consorts for the king of Siem. Though in awe of the concentration to achieve the grace and elegance of the dance, I felt to use the bodies of the dancers for my project didn't sit right.

DAY 4 & 5
Melt down. I got no idea and in full panic and confusion (later on I found out that everyone in the workshop goes through this breakdown) Now I know why the psychologist is there.  Everything started to click really quickly after that.

Walking about with a sprained knee, the past week  I needed a bandage to hold it up. I bought tons of bandages from a pharmacist who also appreciate Apsara dance movements and requested to stay over night at the Foot Print CafĂ©, Siem Reap. He gave me a discount on the bandages :D

Che Faustino a photographer from the Phillippines helped bandaged my torso for 2 nights and in exchange I took pictures of her body for her project.  Sometimes I find it really hard to put words to what I want to say and only movement seem to release this expression. Being in Antoine and Sohrab’s group, required all of us to go through uncomfortable moments.

Transcendence is about going beyond the limits that we have on ourselves. In sports, the finishing line is at times clear but in our daily lifes, reaching our goals and dreams can often seem neverending. Going beyond who I think I am, the idea of who I ‘know’ myself to be limits myself much like the question of 

“What is it that you are hiding from yourself?”


DAY 6 & 7
With the help of Sohrab and Antoine, editing comes pretty quickly. The long edit was 114 and the slideshow presentation came down to 19 images.

I confess to being particular about sounds and motion. In the end I choose to combine 3 parts of music together for the slideshow
Philip Glass - 01 – Koyaanisqatsi
Philip Glass - 02 – Organic
Steve Reich - Proverb

There was portfolio reviews and editors who gave talks and pointers on how to send in work for publishing. It was really helpful to know how to approach editors. One of the outcomes of the Angkor Photo Workshop is a feature of the work Metaphors at framezero media.  Check it out.

 In some funny ways I did meet my objectives only the outcome was unexpected. I ended up feeling disable walking with a limp, I had someone working on my body and I took pictures of my classmate’s body in a mutual exchange of overcoming our own mental barriers and fears. Throughout this entire experience I had to come out of my shell and learnt to ask for help.
Funny how life works out.


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