“ALIVE” is my personal concept to reveal the intimate memory of old photos and usual objects entrusted to me by local Cambodian families, forty years after the Khmer Rouge regime.

Since I was a young boy, in Cambodia, I have often listened to my parents, siblings, and relatives as they shared their past and their painful experiences. In 1975, during the fall of the Lon Nol regime, my parents threw away many old pictures and identity cards in order to hide their backgrounds. If not, they would have been killed immediately for being educated. However some people took great risks to keep photographs to remember their loved ones and objects, which represented something important to them.

All these photographs and objects are deeply significant. They are evidence of a past time in our history. War can kill victims, but it cannot kill the memory of the survivors. Their memory should be alive, known and shared for the current research into human beings, and the preservation of heritage for the next generations.

I started the series “ALIVE” from my personal family’s memory, but my purpose is to expand the project to other families throughout Cambodia. It is now a race against the clock, as living witnesses are gradually disappearing.

—Hak Kim

Editors’ Note: Don’t miss the work of all the other winners and finalists from the LensCulture Exposure Awards 2014. In total, you’ll find 31 visually delightful works from across the world.