Kosal Pisey (b. 1982; Kandal Province, Cambodia) is one of the few Cambodian artists who have received formal education in photography, having graduated from the National Superior School of Photography in Arles, France. During vacation, whenever he was back in Cambodia, Kosal would use the opportunity to visit different parts of the country. The pictures he took during the trips would lead to Slow Steps (2004 – 06), his graduation work at Arles.
Setting out without a narrative in mind, he would stay longer than planned in places that attracted him. Taking as many pictures as possible, the only rule he had was to not have any rules. Sometimes, he would talk to people whom he chanced upon. Sometimes, he would “pose them a little” for a shot.
Unlike Robert Frank who was living out the death of the American Dream when he drove across the country to make The Americans (1955 – 56), Kosal’s Slow Steps is romantic and contemplative. The title indicates the pace he took, which allowed him to be an attentive observer, and mirrors the way he carefully deliberated his ideas, one after another, in his head. The work is presented in a handmade book, which has its own pace. As such, viewers are able to choose the speed in which they would go through the work. The editing that he has done is not to create a documentary narrative in its most traditional sense. The connections between the images are visual and conceptual.
[ (Upper) Pailin; (Lower) Kampot / From “Slow Steps” / Courtesy of Kosal Pisey ]