VANDY RATTANA
b.1980 Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Lives and works between Phnom Penh, Cambodia; Paris, France; and Taipei, Taiwan.

In his prolific work as a photojournalist and artist, Rattana avoids making stock images of Cambodia – politicians, monks, palaces and poverty. Instead, he captures intimate moments of people’s lives. Self-taught, he began to record the daily activities of his family in 2005, which became the subject of his first acclaimed exhibition in Phnom Penh. He has since attended workshops with visiting artists and photographers, including Magnum Photo Agency’s John Vink and Antoine D’Agata. His photo series Bomb Ponds was part of the travelling of the exhibition No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia organized by the Guggenheim and UBS.

b.1980 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

In Fire of the Year 2008, photographer Vandy Rattana captures a hopeless story common in today’s Cambodia. With few fire trucks to call on and bribes required for protection, Vandy stills moments of both chaos and desperate or resigned solitude. Ironically the name of the destroyed district is Dteuk Tlah, or “clear water,” a site where three hundred families lived in stilted homes over a floating blanket of plastic waste. 

The beginning of the series shows a family thrusting down the remains of their wooden house into the polluted waters as a measure to deter further flames, while another man searches for his personal belongings. The story closes with child working as an “ay jai”, or recycler, waiting for the pool of metal waste to cool down so he can begin to collect material for sale, and a barely visible antennae in the gray distance.

In his prolific work as a photojournalist and artist, Vandy avoids making stock images of Cambodia –politicians, monks, palaces and poverty. Instead, he captures intimate moments of people’s lives. Self-taught, Vandy began to record the daily activities of his family in 2005, which became the subject of his first acclaimed exhibition in Phnom Penh. He has since attended workshops with visiting artists and photographers, including Magnum Photo Agency’s John Vink and Antoine D’Agata. 

His solo exhibitions include In My Office (Popil Photo Gallery, 2006), and Chess (Hotel de la Paix Arts Lounge, 2007). Group shows include Norderlicht Photo Festival (2006), Mekong Arts and Culture Project (2007), the Gwanghwamoon International Art Festival in Seoul and Strategies from Within at Ke Center for Contemporary Art, Shanghail (2008). He will represent Cambodia in the Asia Pacific Triennial in 2009 with the Fire of The Year series he is showing for the first time in Forever Until Now.

Vandy is a catalyst for creating community among photographers and artists in Cambodia. He is the founder of Steiv Salapak, an art collective and gallery in Phnom Penh.