Kim Hak

Photographic Exhibition 「Alive IV」

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Photographic Exhibition 「Alive IV」

Kim Hak's photographs tell us about a journey into memories, a journey bursting with great tenderness, despite the suffering it awakens.
-Rithy Panh (from the foreword to Alive III)

Many Cambodians were forced to flee their country to escape oppression, massacre and war under the Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. They left their homes with few possessions: only the most valuable or practical items were brought along on this difficult journey.

Kim Hak, born in 1981, became interested in this period of history and the personal memories of what happened to his parents' generation, and in 2014 he started the project Alive by visiting survivors of the Khmer Rouge era and documenting their belongings and their stories. Beginning by interviewing his own parents, Alive has since developed into chapters in Brisbane, Australia in 2015 and in Auckland, New Zealand in 2018, creating opportunities for dialogue between individuals and generations about the experiences of survivors in these communities.

Alive IV, the fourth chapter in the series, is structured around the stories of 13 Cambodian families, which include both former international students unable to return to their country due to the turmoil in Cambodia in the 1970s, and those who came to Japan as refugees in the 1980s.

In this photo, for example, the items that stand dignified before a black background are some of their personal possessions. A wristwatch, family photos, a fragment of an earring…These are vessels filled with memories of both their faraway homeland and their lives in a new land. What are the stories behind each of these items? As you listen to the audio guide, try to broaden your imagination. Now, let us journey into the memories that lie within each these photos.

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