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Life along the rails Photo Exhibition

By: David Holliday Posted: September-17-2010 in
David Holliday

"Life along the Rails" a photography exhibition commissioned by local NGO Sahmakan Teang Tnaut brought out a lively and enthusiastic crowd for the opening night at Gasolina. This exhibition is part of the Our City Architecture and Urban Design Festival this September. At times there were queues to view the 21 pictures by photographer Conor Wall. Something you might expect from the Tate Gallery but not Phnom Penh.

And for good reason to. These images were not only artistically and beautifully presented they held a strong message, a story of a dying life. Like the controversial filling of Boeung Kok lake which is adversely affecting the lives of thousands of disadvantaged people the railway tracks are also doomed. But doomed for a different reason, and I suppose it could be called progress. The Cambodian Government funded by the Asian development Bank is developing the mined neglected and dilapidated railways of this country. This might be good for the infrastructure of Cambodia and for tourism, but ultimately will end the unique way of life along the rails.

"Reprints are available for sale but this is not my objective" says Conor. "Instead it is
through this exhibition, I hope to put the spot light on development in the area and draw attention to it's effects on residents"

A lifestyle where kids play marbles on the tracks, woman dry rice, or chilli, football games are organised, people socialise, and live next to the rails. Many of the photographs are taken near Boeung Kok villages 1 2 3 and 4. And Conor would visit again and again giving away prints of his subject to his subjects. Some are taken near Battabang and include the famous bamboo train soon to disappear for ever. There are also pictures of railway stations used as makeshift market places and cultural meeting points.

There are two red glowing and surreal images of the fire that devastated communities 104 and 105 in the Toul Kork district. Many of the residents were forced to rebuild in the ashes after this disaster despite railway project regulations that prohibited this.

This where the Urban NGO Sahmaken Teang Tnaut comes in. It was this organisation who commissioned this exhibition resourcing from Conor's library of images as well as some more recent ones. There aim was to showcase a disappearing lifestyle from along the Kingdoms railways. The NGO is monitoring the implications of the development of the railways. STT is also working with communities affected, conducting household surveys, creating maps and raising awareness.

Soon modern trains will be traveling modern tracks and gone will be the children playing marbles on the line. Whether they will have a better future in light of this remains to be seen.

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No it is taken by Conor Wall

It was included in the photography exhibtion


am I correct in thinking it

am I correct in thinking it is one of Nick Sells'??


great photo

great photo



This photo is available to buy at Gasolina in 3 different formats. It also has more detail I merely took a photo of the photo at the exhibition


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