Video, 50', 2012
This video is part of the collections of the Frac Languedoc-Roussillon
The video Le parasol de Phnom Penh (The sun umbrella of Phnom Penh) is part of the project Les Témoins. After I realised a series of investigations in Japan, questionning people in the streets just like a detective would, I deeply regreted that I kept no record of these exciting adventures. That's why a few months later, when I was planning to go to Cambodia in search of an orange sun umbrella I saw in a newspaper, I decided to film my whole trip.The idea was not to compose beautiful pictures. I just wanted to be able to carry out my investigation in a carefree way, just like I previously did, without bothering myself with a video camera, and to have it recorded as automatically as possible. That's why I decided to fix a small size lens on my shoulder. It was the kind of wearable wide angle camera rally drivers or off-pist skiers use. I arrived in Phnom Penh with no other clue than the photo I cuted out of the newspaper. I spent several days wandering the streets, questionning people, searching for an interpreter... Ultimately, I was able to find the owner of the sun umbrella, an old woman who sold drinks from a trolley, and to bring the coveted sun umbrella back to France, adding it to my collection as the eighth "témoins". But during this journey I also discovered a reality the newspaper only let me catch a glimpse of. The photo was taken in one of the poorest districts of the city, near a large lake that was recently filled by a building company that plan to build high standing residences and malls. Its current inhabitants will be constrained to leave. On the photo, this reality was litteraly "off-camera", hidden by a tall concrete wall. Thanks to a young woman I met during my investigation, I was able to go to the other side of this blind wall and to film the 90 hectares of sand that once was water. For me, this project really is about "passing through". An image printed on a newspaper is just as flat, cold and impenetrable as a concrete wall. But with this project, I found a way to pass through its surface and to explore the rich and vivid reality that lays behind. Symbolically, the form of the first person tracking shot set a continuing march toward the horizon against the image's flatness.
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