Fish and Ants / Remissa Mak
Mak Remissa is regarded as one of the most successful Khmer photographers of his generation. He credits his first and third place awards in the 1997 National Photojournalism competition, held by the Foreign Correspondents’ Club and chaired by Phillip Jones Griffiths, as a major catalyst in his career. Currently working as a photojournalist for the European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), his work is often seen on the international news wires. His 2005 fine art photography exhibition, titled after a traditional Khmer proverb: “When the water rises, the fish eats the ant; when the water recedes, the ant eats the fish”, was shown in Phnom Penh galleries like Popil and Java, as well as at the Angkor Photo Festival. Born in 1970, Remissa and his family were moved from Phnom Penh five years later by the Khmer Rouge and relocated in Takeo province. In 1995, he graduated in Fine Art and Photography at the Royal Fine Arts School in Phnom Penh, and his work soon appeared in numerous publications such as Cambodge Soir and the Phnom Penh Post. He has also worked for Reuters and other organisations. Remissa has exhibited his fine art photography in Cambodia, France, Canada and the US, and after spending a few years in Canada, he has returned to live and record events in the country of his birth. Seven pieces of Remissa's Fish and Ants work was recently made part of the Singapore Art Museum's permanent collection.
Mak Remissa exposed « Water is Life » in Hotel De La Paix in Siem Reap, during Angkor Photo Festival 2011.This exhibition was sponsored by AIR France.
Mak Remissa exposed « Water is Life » in the Institut Français de Birmanie (formerly Alliance Française) during Yangon Photo Festival 2012.
Finally Remissa « Water is Life » was exposed during the « Ruptures and Revival: Cambodian Photography in the Last Decade» exhibition in the ICA Gallery 2, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts, in Singapore in March 2012.
Mak Remissa has been a member of Asia Motion since 2010.
This is a well-known ancient Khmer proverb, which is still very popular in the contemporary lives of Cambodian people. Fish are animals that are adept at living in water, completely different from ants that live on land. But, both animals have one thing in common : hard work. Ants are special food for fish while fish are a popular food for ants. Fish and ants are animals. They dominate each other depending on the environment where they live and on the changing situation of nature. Both animals will continue this pattern forever.
Human beings have developed good reasoning, which is completely different from fish and ants. Human beings are able to distinguish between what is good and what is bad. Moreover, human beings can change and can accept what is new and better. The proverb “WHEN THE WATER RISES, THE FISH EATS THE ANT; WHEN THE WATER RECEDES THE ANT EATS THE FISH” has a symbolic meaning and plays a very important role for people of all generations. It clearly reflects a terrible disaster for human beings as a result of mutual oppression according to a specific situation. Eventually, no real success prevails for any group.
Fish and large red ants have been chosen to be the main characters in the picture because fish represent animals that live in water and large red ants represent animals that live on land.
This series of pictorial stories, showing the lives of fish and large red ants, is a broad vision about two species of animal that live in two completely different environments. Both species of animal have created bitter memories of one another for a long time.
“WHEN THE WATER RISES, THE FISH EATS THE ANT;WHEN THE WATER RECEDES THE ANT EATS THE FISH”
Not only is this proverb a good example for all of us, but it is also a Khmer proverb that has retained its popularity up to the present time. All the pictures carry a profound lesson and are drawn with rare artistic beauty, which is very pleasing to the eye, clear-cut colors and lively originality, which adds to the beauty of nature. All the pictures were taken through careful selection of the locations and using natural sunlight in Kandal Stung district, Kandal province in the suburbs of Phnom Penh. In the river, there are many species of fish and on land there are many species of ants living their natural lives. My assistant and I have spent a considerable amount of time visiting and investigating the everyday natural lives of ants and fish. Then, we considered their activities and sketched according to the concepts that we wanted to express in addition to the existing scene by fully respecting nature. We observed that, like human beings, animals have two sexes, families, mates, offspring and shelter and they know how to do everyday work, work as a group, help each other, live in a community and face unexpected accidents, etc.
Therefore, I have expressed many personal feelings in combination with all my talents in order to create each of the works with artistic beauty and liveliness.
April 2006 Photographer of European Pressphoto Agency (epa) in Cambodia
Since January 1995 Photo-Journalist for the French speaking newspaper Cambodge Soir,Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Since January 1996 Free lance Photographer for various national and international organizations in Phnom Penh: UNDP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNFPA, EUROPEAN NUNION, PASEC, PLAN, SIPAR, AMRET, CMAC, RHAC, RACHA, ILO, WORLD BANK, ANZ Royal Bank, Design Group, Royal Air Cambodge, Nestle, Bates, Total Cambodge, and the Phnom Penh Post.
1996 – 2004 Lecturer/Trainer in Photography at the Department of Journalism, Royal University of Phnom Penh
1996 Photographer- Cultural Activities at the French Cultural Center, Phnom Penh
1995 Photography Professor at the University of Fine Arts, Phnom Penh.
1995 Photographer for the newspaper Le Mekong, Phnom Penh
December 2012 “Flamed Forest” was projected in Angkor Photo Festival 2012.
March 2012 « Water is Life » was exposed during the « Ruptures and Revival: Cambodian Photography in the Last Decade» exhibition in the ICA Gallery 2, Institute of Contemporary Arts Singapore, LASALLE College of the Arts, in Singapore
January 2012 « Water is Life » exhibition at the Institut Français de Birmanie (formerly Alliance Française) during Yangon Photo Festival 2012.
Nov-Dec 2011 Angkor Photo Festival 2011 “Water is Life” exhibition at Hotel De La Paix Siem Reap, Cambodia. sponsored by Air France.
May-June 2011 Photo exhibition “Second Edtion:Fish & Ants “ at The 240 Gallery, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
January 2011 Permanent photo exhibition of Fish and Ants work at the Singapore Art Museum.
December 2010 Photo exhibition «Phnom Penh Photo Festival 2010» Phnom Penh, Cambodia
March 2008 Photo exhibition «Brain and reality», at the University Hospital in Geneva, SWITZERLAND
November 2007 Photo exhibition «Photoquai», at Quai Branly Museum in FRANCE
2006 Photo exhibition «Noorderlicht photofestival», in The NETHERLANDS
November 2006 Photo exhibition «Angkor Photo Festival» Siem Reap, Cambodia
December 2005 Photo exhibition at Popil Photogallery organized by Visual Arts Open Photo exhibition «10 years», at the French Cultural Center
October 2002 Photo exhibition at the Providence College in USA
July 2001 Photo exhibition at the National Gallery in CANADA
January 2001 Photo exhibition «Cambodia Mine», at the FCCC
December 1997 Photo exhibition at the Atmosphere Restaurant, Phnom Penh
March – April 1997 Photo exhibition, «A Photographic Journey», at the French Cultural Center, PP
1995 Photo exhibition in France: Arts Cambodge
Photo exhibition at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Cambodia, PP
1994 Photo exhibition at the French Cultural Center
1997 1ST AND 3RD prize at the National Photo-Journalism Competition Organized by the FCCC, with Philip J.GRIFFITHS as President of the Jury
2000 Training in Paris with the French Press photo agency VU
1997 Studies in Photojournalism, organized by Indochina Media Memorial Foundation, THAILAND
1993 – 1995 Degree in Photography Royal Fine Arts University, Phnom Penh, Supported by Arts Cambodge Association
1985 - 1995 Fine Arts degree (B.A.), Royal Fine Arts University, Phnom Penh