Thursday, June 17, 2010

KR memories

Nhem En surrounded by the mug-shots he took at S-21
Nhem En is spouting off again, this time telling everyone that he's begun building his own $15,000 museum, out of his own pocket, to house his memorabilia and photographs of the Khmer Rouge leaders in their last stronghold, Anlong Veng, where he is a deputy governor. I'll believe it when I see it. I've never met the guy but the word obnoxious springs readily to mind whenever I see his name in print. He's displayed a coldness for his actions in interviews and a penchant for self-publicity and financial gain since he resurfaced and admitted that he was the main photographer that took the face portraits of the prisoners as they entered the S-21 (Tuol Sleng) interrogation facility. For that alone he's had more column inches than he deserves. More recently he tried to get cash from the World Monuments Fund for his museum as well as trying to sell Pol Pot's shoes and some of the cameras he used when he was at S-21, and living with the last dregs of the Khmer Rouge in Anlong Veng. Admittedly, he will have unique photographs that no-one could own as he was in a position of trust that allowed him unrestricted access to the upper echelon of the KR leadership. There was also the documentary by Steven Okaszaki that was up for an academy award last year that carried the photographer's name, The Conscience of Nhem En - or lack of it many would say. There has been a lot of talk about making Anlong Veng a focus of the KR memory that has government support, but as yet, no real action. So Nhem En has decided to kick it off himself.



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