It was only in 2008 that the very first skyscraper emerged in Cambodia’s capitol, Phnom Penh, forcing a reform on a
century-old law that forbid the height of any building to bypass the Royal Palace or Buddhist temple spires. The First High-Rise (2008), documented by Cambodia’s foremost photographer, Vandy Rattana, is an iconic series shot with black and white 35mm film. While reminiscent of such documentary portfolios like Abbott’s 1930s Changing New York, The First High-Riseis unique, and typical of Vandy’s oeuvre, in that the people he captures tell the story. We see the construction crew responsible for this landmark building, details of their daily life and teamwork at great heights as the rest of low-rise Phnom Penh lies in the distance.