Once Beating Heart
2021 - ongoing
Once Beating Heart is a body of work that began in 2021, deeply focused on the great Tonlé Sap lake in Cambodia. The largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, it swells to over five times its usual size during the monsoon season, as the water from the Mekong reverses its flow into the Tonlé Sap. This movement of water pumps the lake like a beating heart, nourishing both people and wildlife in an interconnected web of nature, water and man.
Fish is the lifeblood for those who call the lake their home, but ever since a series of hydropower dams were constructed up north along the Mekong in Laos and China, the inflow of water into the Tonlé Sap has dwindled and fish supplies have been decimated. Coupled with the effects of climate change, such as a devastating drought in 2019, the greatest in a century, it has left families with little income, threatening their lives and affecting their access to basic necessities such as clean drinking water and toilets.
Exploring themes of interconnectedness, ecology, migration, and the idea of seemingly simple lives being shrouded in a complicated existence, I traveled via a small boat going village to village for 16 days, listening to every soul that was willing to share their story.
Once Beating Heart looks at the totality of the Tonlé Sap, the water, the people, the wildlife, and how their existence is connected and intertwined on the lake they call home.