Sunday, March 6, 2011

Children of Ankor

Children of Ankor is a series of portraits of many of the merchant/beggar children that roam the grounds of Ankor Wat (a series of 49 different temples from the Khmer dynasty 2k years ago that ruled all the land now covering thailand, vietnam, laos and cambodia). These children roam the temple grounds digging through trash, begging or trying to sell bracelets and various other knicknaks. often their parents are holding their shoes around the corner. regardless these kids are resourceful, competent and relentless. they know how to make you feel immensely guilty, and possess the nastiest stink eyes i have ever seen. often 2 year olds come up to you and count to ten in 8 different languages and then just stick your hand out...or even younger children don't know any english except "gimme one dolla". while i shot this series i started waking up to cold sweats hearing "scuse me buy for one dolla"over and over and over. I got over this buy paying every child for their portrait...i can only wear so many bracelets. regardless. this series represents to me the perseverance of spirit in the cambodian people and their contentment with the simpler things in life (from a westerner's veiwpoint anyway) that i find have been lost in commercialist society. I captured 30 different children and i shot these over three days cause that was all the time i could afford to visit the temples but the project could potentially grow far beyond in scope if allotted more time. Cambodia was by far the most emotionally taxing country to visit. during the vietnam war over 600k cambodian and laotion civilians were murdered by the U.S. during agent orange campaigns. this figure does not even factor in the generations of deformations, diseases, and deaths that have ensued since. Vietnam suffered 4 times that amount of civilian casualties just to put in scope. the war is in your face every day, beggars carry deformed children from the effects of agent orange, as well as landmine victims are at every corner and only growing in number as more are found. To boot, Polpot killed another 2 million of them almost immediately. Cambodian people have been to hell and back and have done so with spirit and determination. It is one of the most beautiful cultures i have ever seen.

1 comment:

Brian H said...

i particularly like the images of pairs. I also like the little girl with the playboy bunny shirt giving the peace sign. This is a cool series and a nice contrast to the historic prison mugshots