John Willis photographs, 2009-2011 0.5 Linear Feet — 1 box — 6 prints
American photographer John Willis created these six composite color images to articulate and consider the connections between photographic portraits taken by the Khmer Rouge of young people in Tuol Sleng prison in Phnom Penh, where an estimated 14,000-20,000 victims were executed from about 1975-1979, and images of deteriorating mural frescoes at the Emperor's Palace, also in Phnom Penh.
The portraits are said to be of prison workers, and were exhibited in 2008 at the prison, now a genocide museum. Five of the historical photographs are portraits; the sixth shows a group of what appears to be Khmer Rouge soldiers in uniform. The photographer's images show that the original photographs on exhibit at the genocide museum were defaced with graffiti and other marks by visitors.
Images of the neglected Emperor's Palace frescoes flank the victim's portraits, creating dramatic diptychs and triptychs, and depict scenes from the Cambodian epic poem, the Reamker, which speaks to human issues of love, revenge, loyalty, and trust.
The six color inkjet prints measure approximately 7x15 inches and were created from 2009 to 2011.