Artist narrative

Paolo Patrizi

At dusk, a murmuration of starlings takes to the air, preparing to roost for the night. Despite performing breathtaking aerial displays, the flocks are sometimes considered a public nuisance because of the noise they make and bird droppings they produce. The coordination of these large flocks of starlings at dusk is one of the great wonders of nature. Such flocks remain incredibly cohesive under attack by predators, never leaving a bird isolated. When attacked, the birds spread apart; at other times, when the flock makes a directional change, they merge closer together. No matter how drastically the flock’s shape and intensity changes, the birds are always integrated in a flock as a whole.

After an attack has taken place and the flock has expanded, it can regroup quickly because its cohesion does not depend on the distance between the birds but rather is based upon the number of their neighbours. This implies that these creatures have complex cognitive capabilities.

These findings may have implications for the study of other animal groups and indeed human behaviour. It is thought that a model based the birds’ behaviour could help to understand human herding responses, especially during high stress events like stock-market panics. Individual people coordinate and imitate each other to create collective phenomena.

Chan Sokdam

Photographed during a workshop for Anjali House children in 2009, “Life & Disability” is 17-year-old Sokdam’s second solo exhibition. Although Sokdam’s photographs are at times abstract, his subjects’ difficult circumstances add a dose of realism. Inspired by his neglected childhood, Sokdam addresses the everyday hardships that adults and children in Cambodia face. His stark, naïve style conveys all the chaos and disorder of the streets in Siem Reap.

“I feel lucky to be at Anjali where I can have a good education, meet good friends, meet good people, have enough food to eat, new clothes and a new bicycle. I feel safe and Anjali gives me hope for the future. I like taking pictures because I want to show people about the difficulties faced by people in Cambodia. There are also a lot of interesting things and places to photograph.”

Artist bio

Paolo Patrizi

Born in Italy in 1965, Paolo Patrizi began his career in London as an assistant photographer. While working on freelance assignments for British magazines and design groups, he started to develop individual projects of his own. His recent documentary stories explore the contradictions between tradition and modernity, and the cultural disconnections that result from rapid economic growth. He has exhibited internationally and his work, which has won a number of notable awards, is featured in leading publications. He is currently based in Japan.

Chan Sokdam

14-year-old Sokdam arrived at Anjali House in 2007 with nothing but the clothes on his back, which spoke volumes about his background and splintered family. After more than two years at Anjali house, his transition from abandoned child and distant outsider to a happy, confident, and positive young man is testament to the impact that the center has on young people’s lives.

"Angkor Photo Festival 2010"
Paolo Patrizi and Chan Sokdam
03 November - 03 December 2010

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