Dinh Q. Le
Adrift in Darkness
In Cambodia: Reamker #11, Dinh Q. Le focuses on the failings of collective perceptions about Cambodia, incorporating his own refugee experience as a consequence of the American War in Vietnam. His hometown Ha Tien lies at the border town between Vietnam and Cambodia. The 1978 invasion and massacre of Ha Tien by the Khmer Rouge regime (1975–1979) eventually pushed Dinh’s family to leave Vietnam and seek refuge abroad. This has thus left an indelible mark on the artist and led to the continual interest in the history of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge shown in his work throughout the years.
In this work, Dinh Q. Le weaves the portrait of a Khmer Rouge victim from the Tuol Sleng prison with images found in the Royal Palace (Phnom Penh) of the epic good vs. evil tale, Reamker (the Ramayana), which offers a glimpse into the richness of Cambodian culture. In doing so, the artist invites the viewer to look beyond the flat surface of the photographic evidence of a person’s last living moments. Indeed, the rich thousand-year Cambodian history has always formed a crucial part of, and will continue to live through, portraits of individuals such as this, even when they themselves have long ceased to exist.
(Edited from text excerpts provided by the artist and Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac)