Fortune Tellers (2006-07) / Thy Heang


Thy Heang (蓝金香; b. 1984; Phnom Penh) is one of the few female photographers active in Cambodia. Drawn to documentary photography, the Cambodia-born Teochew works as a communication assistant in a local NGO, making it harder to find time to pursue personal projects.

In Fortune Tellers (2006 – 07), Thy showed different-sized portraits of the fortune tellers in Phnom Penh alongside a mural of the things that they use – urns, poker cards, Buddha images – for their work. According to Thy, some Cambodians prefer to believe in fortune tellers rather than themselves. She is sceptical but remains non-judgmental. In fact, Thy entertains the idea that people may actually find solace from the fortune tellers. They are the unofficial counsellors of Phnom Penh.

Her starting point was to create a “realistic” portrayal of a “Cambodian” way-of-life. Again, photography is used to preserve something intangible. As such, she didn’t see the need to limit herself to one protagonist.

[ Untitled (top) / Untitled (below) / From “Fortune Tellers” / Courtesy of Thy Heang ]