I'm waiting for you, Sitting with you, Loving you
Victoria Sampors Chiek
Born to a Han Chinese-Cambodian father and an indigenous Khmer mother, my body of work reflects the strife of Cambodian colorism that shapes my worldview. My work centers on Khmer indigeneity, biracialism, and Cambodian transnationalism.
In these selections from my photography series, I aim to capture the painful reality of being indigenous Khmer at Stanford. Titled “The Ghosts of SKA,” this series represents the four indigenous Khmer women at Stanford who were pushed out of their namesake community space and cultural organization, Stanford Khmer Association, which consists almost entirely of Sino-Cambodian students. SKA has repeatedly failed to acknowledge the differences between indigenous Khmer people and non-indigenous Cambodian people. We are the ghosts of SKA, individuals who struggled to find each other on our campus, often feeling invisible and discounted until we created an intimate community.
In shooting this series, I aimed to tie together aspects that have characterized our experience of Khmer loneliness both in the United States and at Stanford. The use of the cell phone was key in representing our common thread. Growing up as part of a small minority in the United States, there were few resources available for us to learn about the culture we felt detached from. Thus, we turned to the internet as our primary source of Khmer history. I chose to implement this as a subliminal tribute to our walking history book and source of self-configuration, as well as a symbol of loneliness; when we wait for the bus alone, we turn to our screens. At Stanford, before we all met one another, our Khmer identity was untapped. I utilized long exposure to represent the loneliness of being left behind.