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John Vink - Boxing in Cambodia

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John Vink (1948, Belgium)

John Vink studied photography at the School of Fine Arts of the Cambre in Belgium at the end of the 1960’s and became an independant photographer in 1971. Following on from this he joined the agency VU in 1986, where he was awarded the Eugene Smith prize for a series of pictures on the subject of water management in Sahel.

The photo-reporter John Vink has loads of stories to tell about the countries that he has traveled to, and the many dangerous © John Vinksituations that he has lived through in Thailand, Honduras, Angola… the list is almost endless.  According to John Vink problems are everywhere, and the photographer is their privileged witness. It is in this sense that between 1987 and 1993, he shot a series concerning refugees of the entire world, which is soon to be exhibited in the Centre National de la Photographie (CNP) in Paris. However, despite this he considers that photography cannot change the world.

It is with this approach that John Vink leads us to the following conclusion : a photographer can at least change our vision as much by his social responsibility as by his humanitarian vision. A theory shared by most of the photographers at the Magnum agency, a group that John Vink has been a member of since 1997.

© John VinkDuring his last exhibition in Paris during the summer of 2007 at the Jayavarman VII Gallery, he presented a collection of photographs with at its heart the subject of boxing.  All of the pictures are in black and white and were shot in Phnom Penn at the Borei Kelia stadium and in the gymnasium of E. Phoutang , named after the ex middle weight champion.
John Vink is above all a real connoisseur of Cambodia, which is a country he has visited since 1989 and lived in since 2000. This particular ambience of a very violent sport, which is practiced in conditions that we in the west are not used to seeing has been immortalized by John Vink with an intimate sensibility for the subject. He has been capable of integrating himself into the lives of these athletes from the other side of the world, and into all of their most private moments.

© John VinkThe young boys training in this very particular form of boxing, that is better known as Thai boxing, but really has its roots in the Khmer Empire, have become the focus of John Vink. It is with the goal of celebrating this culture that John Vink decided to exhibit his work in a very particular location that often shows the art of Cambodia. The  Jayavarman VII Gallery is right in the middle of Paris, welcoming works of exceptional quality in terms of photographs in an extreme environment.

John Vink has been able to help us travel directly to Cambodia and its culture. He leaves us to discover this magical country with the help of this international photo-reportage. 

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Portfolio by John Vink


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