Maison Bergamini presents
Les Dames du Lac
By Sarah Freres
Tuesday 22 September
18h30 : Opening Doors
20h00 : Documentary Screening - Even a Bird Needs a Nest
21h00 : Discussion with the artist
22h00 : Closing Doors
Situating itself within the photographic reportage practice, “The Ladies of the Lake” proposes an insight in the current conditions of Cambodian contradictory and violent process towards “development”, by focusing specifically on the fight for housing and land rights a group of brave women is undertaking in Phnom Penh, the capital of the country.
Forced evictions are one of the most widespread human rights violations occurring in Cambodia today. Since the Khmer Rouges’ defeat, nearly forty years ago, at least 30,000 residents of the capital city Phnom Penh have been forcibly evicted.
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Until 2007, the northern part of the city was in fact covered by a 90 hectares lake. That year, nonetheless, the government decided to cover it with sand in order to launch a major urban development project that envisioned the “requalification” of the area into a luxurious, tourist-based neighbourhood. To do so the government sold the surrounding lands to a Chinese real estate company – Shukaku Inc - and violently evicted the 20,000 families living there.
Rather than fostering development, hence, the (ongoing) initiative has produced an overt violation of local inhabitants’ property and land rights and major environmental and social damages.
Sarah Freres’s work powerfully captures the pain, courage, resistance and engagement of the “Boeung Kak” movement, a citizen movement led by a group of women locally inhabiting the area and fiercely fighting for social justice and for the right to a better future.
The exhibition invites the viewer to immerge into this outer world, outer both because invisible to the majority of the international community and because of the exceptional power of the civilian struggle undergoing.
By shading some light on the too often untold story of the Boeung Kak lake specifically and of Cambodian’s political economic path more generally, we invite you to question what “development and growth actually means in the daily expansion of our globalising political thanatonomy and to start thinking of new possible horizons of fight and hope.
Accompaining the exhibition, the documentary "Even a Bird Needs a Nest", by Vincent Trintignant-Corneau, Christine Chansou will be screened.
Sarah Freres is a Belgian journalist living and working in Brussels and Phnom Penh.
Maison Bergamini is a multidisciplinary exhibition and research space close to the canal area of Brussels.