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Ly Daravuth
The Messengers

Various dimensions


Ly Daravuth was born in Kampong Thom Province. In 1980, he went to the refugee camps in Thailand, and he emigrated to France in 1983. He studied art history and visual arts at La Sorbonne (Paris, France). He returned to Cambodia in 1993 and is currently a lecturer of art history at the Faculty of Archeology of the Royal University of Fine Arts. He is the co-founder of Reyum.

During Pol Pot time, certain teenagers and children delivered messages for Angkar all over the country. The photographs used in this installation were collected by the Documentation Center of Cambodia and are said to show such Khmer Rouge messengers.
"After talking to Youk Chhang, the director of DC-Cam, I became interested in the strange idea of the truth and its documentation. Because of the blurred black-and-white format and the numbering of each child, we tend to read these photographs first as images of victims, when they are 'really' messengers and thus people who actively served the Pol Pot regime. The fact that upon seeing their faces, I immediately thought of victims, made me uneasy. My installation wishes to question what is a document? What is 'the truth'? And what is the relationship between the two?"

Through various visual means , the photographs have been physically deteriorated and set amongst similarly doctored images of children from the present. The installation thus set a curious scene in which confusion and ambivalence reign. If at first glance we assume by their poignant poses and format that the pictured children are victims, "Messengers" leads us to admit that perhaps it is impossible to access any truth other than that once a child stood before a camera and was photographed. Who they are, what they did, and when they lived, is not revealed by the photograph which we still hold somehow to be the direct record of the truth. If upon entering we are seduced into easy sadness, we leave uneasy, recognizing the difficulties of ever discerning "the truth" retrospectively.

All images and captions copyright © 2000 Reyum. All rights reserved.

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