At a Glance
“River, Street in Buddha’s Land,” photographs by Christopher Bland at the FCC Phnom Penh through April 1, 2007. Opening night reception with the photographer March 7th.
On the Web
Formerly a first-class commercial and architectural photographer, the more exuberant side of Christopher Bland will be on display beginning April 8 at the FCC Angkor. Bland’s exhibition “River, Street in Buddha’s Land” is an exploration of Cambodia’s and Southeast Asia’s ancient past and vibrant present.
Bland says his past experiences have led him to “recent adventures” and several long-term photo projects devoted to Southeast Asia. Bland’s asks only that the viewer “react” to his work, and his recent selection to display in The Four Season in Bangkok suggests that many fans are doing so favorably. Further, he gives a portion of all his income from photography to a Cambodian children’s hospital.
Bland’s photographs are at once familiar and unforgettable. In his show at the FCC Phnom Penh are images of monks and mosques and ancient, moldering temples. Bland explores everyday life in Cambodia, as well as its more bizarre aspects. His art is wide-ranging, and his eye captures a country from all sides.
In one image a parade of Thai schoolgirl beauty queens marches down a street adorned in party dresses and clutching gilded trophies. In another, a demure young mother covers her face against the sun while riding in a crowded remorque.
Bland’s detail photography is expansive as well. One picture is a close-up of a jeweled depiction of Buddha’s feet, another is a depiction of burning incense sticks.
As the exhibit’s title suggests, Buddhism is a frequent topic. Bland takes the viewer on an intimate tour of the nation’s religion — with sensitivity and soulfulness. In some pictures, colorful saffron robes contrast with the stone of ancient temples, but there is a harmonious logic to the scenes.
Children enjoy special treatment from Bland, who’s knack of capturing a prefect smile seems uncanny. The show has warmth; and more than once provides a glimpse at a young child and an elder in close embrace.
“River, Street, Buddha’s Land” will remain on display through April 2007.