Behind is a series of images that utilizes photography, performance, and public space. The young artist Neak Sophal invited individuals, some familiar to her and some strangers, to perform the act of self-censorship by showing their backs to the camera instead of revealing their faces and identity. She approached people on sidewalks, in front of their doors and on streets, purposely investigating public spaces and those that populate them where they are most exposed and often the most vulnerable. Situating the participants within their environment Sophal carefully composed the scenes asking them to face a wall or other structure—a position that suggests withdrawal, avoidance or even punishment.

Many of the participants who were chosen live and work on the street or in poor urban housing, a border of conflict over privatizing urban spaces. Making the series poetic and poignant with increasing reports of contention over land, resources and rights that continue to escalate between marginalized populations, corporations and governing powers. With limited outlets for expressing grievances and frustration, communities oscillate between hopelessness and violent protests. Through a simple gesture the artist explores feelings of fear, shame and being powerless in a quickly changing society.

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Exhibition details
January 17 – February 24, 2013
Java Gallery (upstairs)
56 Sihanouk Blvd, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Open daily 7am - 9pm
JavaArts office open Mon - Fri 8:30am - 5:30pm

about the artist

Sophal Neak

Neak Sophal (b. 1989, Takeo), a recent graduate of the Royal University of Fine Arts, is considered one of the rising talents of the Cambodian art scene with a clear and determined vision. She has been actively involved in workshops and group exhibitions locally and internationally over the last three years including KepExpo (2013), Our City Festival (2012), SurVivArt (Meinblau, Berlin, 2012), PhotoPhnomPenh (2010, 2012), Big Eyes (Sa Sa Art Gallery, 2011) and Hey Sister, Where Are You Going (Sovanna Shopping Mall, 2010).

This series was created for the Our City Festival 2012 during a photography workshop initiated and led by Kim Hak. It is the artist’s first solo show. Produced and presented by JavaArts.