The last ruins of Cambodia Giovanni C. Lorusso and his Leica M9

Beyond Cambodia’s largest historical treasure Angor Wat, stand the ruins of Kep from a less known time in history: the ‘Golden Age’ of Cambodia. Moving through the town of Kep, the memories of another era emerge through the ruins of luxuries villas built throughout the coast line known in the 1960’s as the’Cambodian Riviera’. The presence of these skeletons is not the result of the Khmer Rouge’ social attack, but the desperate attempt of the locals to escape famine by stripping and selling walls, doors and tiles in exchange for rice.

The interest in this subject came while walking inside one of these buildings and discovering a window facing the Gulf of Thailand and suddenly loosing that sense of separation to the past which we are so well acquainted with. The old still echoes in these spaces, bouncing and entrapped between its walls. Inside this decadent pictures we feel immediately connected with this particular time in history. Not even nature, with its inexorable attempt at taking over these structures is able to age them enough.

Like a tactile experience these ruins mysteriously provide us with all the sensorial needs to be part of this perennially present moment. Every building carries its own signature, representing a defined way in the living of its owner. Something intimate connects us with it: each room you allow yourself into is a new existential expression on its own.

While looking at these walls, marks, settings, we feel inevitably forced to question our own definition of time, the way we juxtapose what is not anymore against what still is. For the first time, through the act of photographing empty, unmovable objects, I was able to see life behind them. In the ‘last ruins’ of Cambodia stands yet another fundamental connection with the drama of mankind, of which we clearly are not mere spectators.

Giovanni is an Italian cinematographer and artist based in Melbourne, Australia. He has been working in the past years on several experimental, commercial, long and short form drama projects around Europe, Australia, Africa, New Zealand, Asia (Cambodia, China, Japan, Timor Leste, India, Thailand and Laos) aiming at combining his research in metaphysics and philosophy of language with new forms of cinematographic expressions.

In collaboration with his partner and producer Elisa Pascarel they have started a series of photographic researches to portray and define the concept of ‘human condition’. Elisa and Giovanni are currently in production filming Timor Leste second feature film.

About Giovanni C. Lorusso:

My photographic experience started in 2008 when I received my first – very dented but fully functional – Leica M3. Since 2013 my work is made entirely on a Leica M9, to accommodate the need of producing a larger amount of photographic work.

I was taught in my early days to avoid using light meters and let your instinct and natural perception of light define the right exposure – ‘just look how light reflects on the palm of your hand and everything will follow’ I was once told. Leica has since allowed me to pursue this very instinctual way of working reducing any separation between me and the subject of my research to bare minimums.

To know more about Giovanni C. Lorusso’s work, please visit his official website.

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