Pulitzer Rainforest Outreach Program

#PrayForPrey is an environmental art exhibition showcasing artworks from more than twenty artists, photographers, NGO workers, students, Indigenous communities representatives and journalists, part of the larger campaign #ShowMeYourTree by Pulitzer Center and following the #OurRootsOurForest exhibition in the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center in November 2021 including as well artists from Thailand and Myanmar. This outreach program aims to engage a wider audience with environmental topics crucial to our time of global climate and biodiversity crisis, using art and information to bring people closer to nature while celebrating the work being done to protect it.

Southeast Asia suffers one of the highest deforestation rates in the world. Cambodia has lost 20 percent of its tree cover in the last two decades, according to GlobalForestWatch data. Each felled tree carries a story, a memory lost from a source of shelter and sustenance for animals and people. This exhibition captures both the challenges of preserving our forests and the actions taken by empowered communities to retain them in the fight to secure our ecosystem and biodiversity. From environmental journalists to conservationist photographers; accomplished artists to students, we hope these works express narratives rooted in the forests we need to survive. Taken together, they represent small actions by forest communities, civil society groups, artists and activists brave enough to stand by the planet we all share.

Borrowing the word for forest in Khmer language, Pray for Prey consists of a journey that goes from images of a past of untouched nature, to the present clash and, finally, solutions for the future. Or traveling backwards, represents the people on the ground defending the trees, against the issues we currently face, towards restoring the harmony between humanity and nature we all need to survive as a species, as a thriving planet. 

#OurRootsOurForest exhibition at the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Center.

Exhibition #PrayForPrey in F3 Friends Futures Factory, full list of artists involved:

Andy Ball, photography and mixed-media
Chea Sereyroth, paintings on Khmer natural mats
Chhan Dina, paintings
Dahlia Phirun, paintings and drawings
Emilie Languedoc, multimedia
Hour Seyha from Romcheik5 art collective, paintings
Janice Seng, illustrations
Jeremy Holden, photography
Lucky the artist elephant from Phnom Tamao rescue center by Wildlife Alliance, photos and paintings
Miguel Jeronimo, photography, AI art and mixed-media
Nout Daro, paintings
Phina So and others, collection of poems on plant pots by Repot Derm

Phum Asie, dance performance of Robam Trot and trditional tools showcase
Roma Garzonio, mix-media sculture
Roun Ry, photography
Sam Daro, drawings (and live drawing during the opening)
Sao Sreymao, digital illustration on photos
Sean Gallagher, video
Tamara Venn, prints of paintings
Udam Pen/Penkuro, Samia Singh, Techit and Monorom, illustration book and informative deck of cards done with the design-residency program DoorToAsia and the Kuy community of Kompong Thom
Vincent Romera, photography
Yann Bigant & Sar Senkethya, photography

Launch of the brand SeSame But Different with representatives of the Kuy community of Kampong Thom, using one of the staple foods of this indigenous group to fundraise to secure land for their youth community center, with a trip to Bangkok to present the product kindly supported by the Japanese design-in-residency program DoorsToAsia and their representative in Cambodia Mai Yoshikawa.

Outreach activity with influencers, tree planting organized by Tan Kimsour.

Wrap-up video of the exhibition openings (first produced by Vijitra Duangdee, second by Studio80s).

And, besides curation, below are some of my own work exhibited in both exhibitions:

When the Machine Knows
Text-to-image AI-generated images

Activism for natural preservation and countering the major sources of pollution and our ecosystems’ destruction is the fight of our generation. Despite overwhelming evidence of the importance of forests to regenerate the air we breathe and maintain the world as we know it — its fauna and flora, our own livability — humanity as a whole seems to be slow to act and many still actively oppose change.

In this series, Miguel Jeronimo uses a text-to-image artificial intelligence tool to propose questions about the future of the nature surrounding us and the very acts that undermine it. Feeding it prompts on illegal logging and poachers, the wildlife disappearing, a world where all the trees are gone. As if to ask, if people don’t care what do machines think about it? Considering the outputs given by the AI come from massive amounts of data from the internet, the resulting images can be seen as well as a conclusion for what our collective knowledge already knows but, unfortunately, fail to act upon.

Power through the people
Map and led lights with controller, in collaboration with Andy Ball

In 2021, the Cambodian government approved a 299 kilometers power line through Prey Lang Wildlife Sanctuary. Not only does the line threaten the largest tract of lowland evergreen forest in Southeast Asia, it also threatens a forest home to some 250,000 Indigenous people and one of the country’s largest carbon stocks. Experts have proposed two alternative paths around the sanctuary that would cost between 1.5 and three times less, whilst also leaving the forest intact.