Thanks to input from both Gem and Richard Young (a fellow member of the PhotoBath collective), I think I had a bit of a breakthrough on the exhibition images. That is, to use Khmer text for the quotes, with a small English translation underneath.
I believe that this makes the image intrinsically more interesting (maybe Barthes ‘punctum’ for some viewers?). It also more clearly anchors the place to Cambodia.
I shared the idea with Paul, Krishna and the Cromarty group – and got a favourable response. Danny went so far as to comment that:
I think it looks good and hold full respect for the people and subject matter. It stands out because an imperial or colonial way of acting would not put the local language first in the case of work shown at home. It’s very respectful, and I like it a lot.
Paul suggested a book by Hannah Darabi which explored the use of photographs, text and slogans during the Iranian revolution. It’s on order!
I have asked Sarath to help me with accurate translations into Khmer.
For reference, here are the quotes that I have included in the book, and a few extra that I used earlier in WIP. A subset of these will be used in the exhibition at BRLSI in December.
- My Father was an engineer in the Army, before he was executed.
- The three had their ankles chained together to a machine gun for the battle.
- Soldiers of the camp were executed by the Khmer Rouge just after Phnom Penh fell.
- My Mother told me do not tell others about our family background. I also pretended to be illiterate.
- They killed him by throwing him into the well and dropping stones on him.
- In 1975, my third Brother died as we didn’t have medicine or food. He was injured by a fish and got an infection.
- If I could not do this, I would die, and my bones would be left in the nearby fields.
- The Khmer Rouge cadre looked at her and told her harshly that they were all children of Angkar, and they could kill them anytime.
- We all have to work to serve Angkar, be committed to Angkar, and to report our parents’ stories to Angkar.
- We were skin and bones. I could only just stand up in the rice fields and tried hard not to fall down.
- I could not do anything.
- The village chief was sorry for the young children; he said that they were all probably going to die.
- If the Khmer Rouge could see the photos of our family, we would have been killed by them.
- I had serious diarrhoea and bleeding, and I was left untreated because there was no medicine. I also had no food.
- looked at them, and thought that they could not survive long, because they could not walk properly.
- As I walked, I thought that if I met a wolf, I would climb a tree.
- Ten families lived near my Mother. Everyone died.
- People were forced to move dead bodies from the village, to bury them in the fields near the village.
- Two medical doctor’s families were killed by the Khmer Rouge, because when their babies died, they ate them.
- I decided not to tell Akeo that his Mother had passed away. I was afraid he would report me to the Khmer Rouge.
- Then they took us to an area quite a distance from the camp, where the pond was to be dug.
- Because of the hardship and suffering, the smell of dead bodies in the ponds was not really bad.
- Khmer Rouge soldiers planted landmines after they left.
- We stayed a month at the gas station, looking for food in the forest, trying not to step on landmines.
- Most of the food was burnt by the Khmer Rouge before they had fled into the forest.
- Six people in all were arrested and questioned. One was beaten until he died because he said ‘no’ to all questions.
- One of the injured patients had a broken backbone, from which he would surely die as there was no specialised treatment available for him.
- A boy boss stood up and asked a question. Who has collected more cow shit this morning?
- A boy said to the class: we all have to report our parent’s stories to the organization.
- My youngest Brother was about three years old. Mother placed his body in the rice field next to our village.
I will be explored different layouts and use of text over the next couple of weeks.
I have already downloaded the same font (Khmer OS) that Sarath uses to be sure I get an accurate representation of his translation. Early exploration using the UK Mac OS had errors.
DARABI, Hannah. 2019. Enghelab Street: A Revolution through Books: Iran 1979-1983. Leipzig: Spector Books.