I have spent some time working with V.D.C.A., based in Siem Reap and Anlung Pi, a small village in north Cambodia and I experienced a heart-warming hospitality. Their dedication to the development of education led me to put together the exhibition Outskirts, reflecting the experiences I was lucky to have and raising funds for the local community and V.D.C.A.'s cause.
Outskirts is a collection of twenty-four black & white photographs that offers an insight into the life of local villagers and their place within the surrounding environment. At once idyllic and untouched by human hand as well as increasingly industrialized and contaminated area. This place has not only impressed me but has also put in perspective what we all take for granted.
Even with a backdrop of destructive industrialization and lack of resources for essential needs, the villagers showed incredible hospitality and generosity. They made me feel like a part of their family, never hesitating to share, with a stranger, whatever resources they had at their disposal. The lack of material goods resulted in the abundance of spirit. It is in the midst of what we perceive as poverty that I’ve encountered the richness of the Cambodian soul.
The local NGO Volunteer Development Children's Association (V.D.C.A.) is a small organization that provides free education to the underprivileged children of Anlung Pi village who cannot afford the school supplies or monthly fees. Mr. Thong, the former Buddhist monk that has built up V.D.C.A from the ground is doing important work in offering these children a chance for a better future. But as a grassroots organization, V.D.C.A. naturally, depends on the financial support from the more privileged societies.
Outskirts was shown at ZGallery in Chippendale, Sydney, in 2017.