From The Cambodia Daily , January 11, 2000
Cambodian Artists Explore Legacy
of the Pol Pot Regime
By Victoria Stagg Elliott
gallery has gathered together work by 10 artists around the theme of
"The Legacy of Absence" as part of a worldwide Rockefeller
Foundation-funded project supporting the production of work from countries
that have suffered extreme trauma. The
Reyum Gallery exhibition focuses on the trauma of the Pol Pot regime
of 1975-79 when more than 1 million people died through forced labor,
disease, starvation and execution. Elsewhere,
the Legacy Project is backing work on the genocide in Rwanda, the Cultural
Revolution in China and the Holocaust in Europe. The best works produced
will tour the world next year.
starts with the Holocaust as a model," said Ingrid Muan, co-director
of the gallery. "But there were many traumas in the 20th century." Last year, Cliff Chanin,
the US-based director of the project, visited Cambodia, leaving behind
a page-long statement asking artists to explore the "empty spaces"
left by people who are no longer there.
is eclectic and innovative both in subject matter and the materials
used. The age range also is wide including work from artists who lived
through the regime as adults and now live with their memories, and those
who were young children and barely remember the time. The show goes
beyond pictoral or sculptural representation and includes the modem
art phenomenon of room-size installations and multi-media sculptures.
who is also a co-director of the gallery, has filled a small room with
grainy portraits of Khmer Rouge child messengers interspersed with pictures
of today's children. A recording of Khmer Rouge messages plays in the
Vannara, a Polish-trained painter, has created perhaps the most intriguing
piece of the crowded show combining found objects, old photos and ultra-violet
light. Using a sculpted head created by his father—who died during
the regime—as a base, he has covered the crown with photos of
those who died interspersed with neon-color scraps of paper that glow
from an ultra-violet light inside the head.
wanted to create something new to show to Khmer," he said, adding
the finishing touches with a neon-yellow highlighter Monday morning.
who is best known for his paintings of his experiences in Tuol Sleng
prison, is showing a painting of an idyllic scene of a Cambodian farmer
playing a flute under a tree while cows peacefully graze nearby in the
field. "It's the ideal of how Cambodia could be," said Muan.
None of the work makes any blatant statement on the political hot potato
of the moment—the long-discussed trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders.
"It's about the fallout to society and what loss means to people
personally," says Muan.
Legacy of Absence" opens today from 5 pm-8 pm at the Reyum Gallery,
Street 178, across from the National Muse um. The work will be on show
until Feb 14. The gallery is open seven days a week from 8 am-6pm.