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The ethics of rememberance: the S-21 photographs

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The ethics of rememberance: the S-21 photographs

Sischy, Jacqueline (2009) The ethics of rememberance: the S-21 photographs. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

Almost thirty years after the tragic crusade, which killed 1.4 million people - one-sixth of Cambodia's population - five Khmer Rouge leaders may finally be prosecuted by a United Nations special tribunal. In 1979, when the Vietnamese conquered the Khmer Rouge, they stumbled upon the important faculty, S-21, also referred to as the Tuol Sleng prison, where an estimated 14,000 people had been killed between 1975 and 1979. During that period, prisoners accused of treason, were systematically photographed in the form of a mug shot on arrival, just prior to their extermination. These photographs have become visual symbols of the Khmer Rouge cruelty. They now line the walls of the Toul Sleng Museum, and have appeared in controversial exhibitions, notably the exhibition at the Museum of Modem Art, New York, (MoMA) Photographs from S-21: 1975-1979, presented in 1997, and the touring exhibition Facing Death, which appeared at the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa (CMCP) in 2000. The research for this thesis included interviews with Susan Kismaric, curator of photography at the department at MoMA, and Carol Payne, former assistant curator at CMCP who proposed and coordinated the exhibition of Facing Death at the museum. In discussion with the curators, questions of institutional ethics, audience reception, and photographic historicism were analyzed with the benefit of hindsight and new information. This thesis critically assesses the archival techniques, exhibition practices, and the ethical quandaries surrounding the S-21 photographs. In doing so, it explores how museums and archival institutions have utilized the S-21 photographs to help structure historical memory.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Sischy, Jacqueline
Pagination:iv, 178 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Art History
Date:2009
Thesis Supervisor(s):Langford, Martha
ID Code:976413
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:25
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:42
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