At a Glance
“The FCC Permanent Collection,” four decades of Cambodian history in photographs, on permanent display at The FCC Phnom Penh and The FCC Angkor.
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The FCC Permanent Collection.
Michael Hayes was a 23-year-old backpacker when he took that photograph (above) of two Khmer Rouge foot soldiers under arrest by Lon Nol troops.
It was November 1974, about 10 kilometers north of Oudong near the town of Lovek, and Lon Nol troops were fighting a losing battle against a surging gorilla force.
The fate of those two KR soldiers remains unknown, but the photograph still hangs in The FCC today. Given to Anthony Alderson, now FCC Operations Director, during the FCC’s inaugural year, Hayes’ shot would become the first installment in what is now known as The FCC Permanent Collection.
Traditionally each photographer or artist who exhibits work at The FCC donates one piece to the set. Over the years The Permanent Collection has grown to represent a Who’s Who of artists and photographers working the Southeast Asia region.
At the top of the list sits such photographic legends as Al Rockoff and Roland Neveu, who both lived and worked in Cambodia during the 1970s.
Rockoff distinguished himself from his contemporaries with a reputation for being absolutely fearless under fire. His photographs of Cambodia at war are up close and unflinching.
Neveu’s works leans more toward political and historical reportage. His 2000 book “Cambodia: Years of Turmoil” captures the horror and uncertainty that presaged Cambodia’s plunge into the Khmer Rouge period. Neveu’s book launch, held at the FCC, received critical acclaim.
Gritty photojournalism marked the early years, but The Permanent Collection is not just limited to grainy black-and-white war photography.
Ian Taylor’s expose on rural kick boxing offered an insider’s look at Cambodia’s national past time. Shooting both in black-and-white and color, Taylor’s show ranks as one of the most memorable exhibitions seen at the FCC over the years.
In 1996, American artist Bradford Edwards became the first visual artist to hang artwork instead of framed photographs on the FCC walls.
“The Shape of Cambodia” presented a series of mixed media pieces sharing the same format — a map of Cambodia mounted on a wood board and filled with assorted materials, from collaged photos to broken glass to manipulated vintage paintings to bundles of incense sticks.
Edwards’ subject matter covered topics such as Cambodian ancient history and contemporary pop culture.
Other notable art shows include Mia Wood’s artwork from the mid-90′s, some of which dealt with the dynamic and unpredictable political situation in Phnom Penh at that time.
Wood’s cut-and-paste map of the infamous 1997 coup is one of the collection’s strongest artworks.
Sasha Constable, a long-term Cambodian resident, prodded many with her 2005 exhibit “Crocs, Cocks and Rocks,” a series of colorful, mildly provocative sculptures.
Well-known Australian artist Steve Eastaugh has had four shows at The FCC. Eastaugh always makes a poetic statement by putting physical form to an overarching concept of constant global wandering, his imagery hovering between abstraction and personal symbolism.
And there are dozens of others, each one a unique reflection on Cambodia. Together they represent a significant living and breathing archive of contemporary works on Cambodia.
The Permanent Collection is shown between formal exhibits at the FCC Phnom Penh and FCC Angkor.