03 February 2006

Macam-Macam on Cambodia's Photographer of Death

I neglected to link to Macam-Macam's recent post on Nhem En, photographer of death. It starts with a wall of 50 mugshots.
It is a modern tragedy that these photographs are amongst the most famous photos ever taken by a South East Asian - meticulous mug shots of Cambodian prisoners accused of counter-revolutionary crimes by the Khmer Rouge and admitted to S-21, an institution dedicated solely to the incarceration, torture, extraction of "confessions" and documentation of enemies of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. Almost all prisoners who passed through S-21 were eventually executed, or "smashed".

The man who took most of these shots is Nhem En, a country boy who joined the Khmer Rouge in 1970, aged only ten. Sent overseas to China to study because of his academic promise, his job as photographer at S-21 started in 1976 when he returned to Cambodia and was sent to Tuol-Sleng, the site of S-21. He was only sixteen at the time.
Read and view the whole thing.

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