at a glance
“Can You Feel the Bass,” photography by Nathan Horton at the FCC Phnom Penh, from March 3 – 31.
The FCC Permanent Collection, four decades of Cambodian history in photographs.
In photographer Nathan Horton’s view of Olympic Stadium, the bleachers are where the action is and the playing field is the place to watch it all unfold.
From that low vantage point, Horton captures the daily mass ritual that energizes the Phnom Penh stadium each morning as an army of daybreak fitness fanatics flood the stadium’s upper decks.
Young and old, men and women — they come by the thousands to shake, rattle and disco in the dawn’s early light.
Call it the aerobics set, out to enjoy a health-conscious workout that’s light years away from Cambodia’s agrarian folk traditions. Meet Cambodia’s nuevo middle class, a burgeoning group with virtually unprecedented wealth, who are quickly picking up the habits of their more affluent neighbors.
Titled “Can You Feel the Bass,” photographer Nathan Horton’s exhibit at the FCC Phnom Penh is an extended series of silhouettes, freeze-frames from the stadium’s daily dance routine. Moreover, it’s a photographic essay of a post-conflict Cambodia on the move.
“‘Can You Feel the Bass’,” Horton says, “is a homage to both great modern monoliths of the Olympic Stadium, the structural base, and the Apsara dance, base movements, that have morphed their way into a modern-day dance routine.”
A long-term resident of Phnom Penh, Horton is well-known around Cambodia and the region as a photographer. He has spent much of his professional life working in and around Asia.
Like many adventurous men now Horton’s age, the younger Horton was inspired by the great writers of his time to get on the road.
“From the age of 17 a friend and I used to read a lot of Jack Kerouac and Ernest Hemingway, and we just stuck out our thumbs and hitch-hiked our way around Europe for as long as our holidays would allow,” Horton says. “He wrote and I took pictures. We slept on beaches, in railway stations, on the side of the road.”
Horton made his first trip to Asia nearly 20 years ago. The one-year trip stretched out to two, and soon the allure of Asia clearly had a hold on the boy from Bristol, England.
After two years of traveling mostly in Thailand and India, Horton returned to the London commercial photography scene, selling his Asian prints and working the monthly magazine circuit for glossies such as Elle, Red, FHM and others.
But Horton never got over the travel bug. He was circulating his travel photography when he caught the eye of Food & Travel magazine. In 2005, the glossy monthly magazine sent him on assignment to Cambodia.
“It rekindled a fire for all the things I loved about Asia,” Horton says.
In September 2006, Horton moved to Phnom Penh, where he lives and works today. While he tends to work mainly on commercial photography, life in Cambodia still allows him to pursue his passions.
“I always joke that I don’t know whether I love photography because it gives me an excuse to travel,” Horton says. “Or I love traveling because it gives me an excuse to pick up a camera.
“But the truth is, the two always went hand in hand for me.”