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Black and white photograph of the skulls of Cambodians murdered by the Khmer Rouge
Title: Remains of the day
Location: Choung Ed Genocide Center - "The killing fields"
Country: Cambodia
Subject notes: The S21 detention center was once a school in Phnom Penh, but on April 1st, 1975, the leader of the rebel faction named the Khmer Rouge, Pol Pot, took over the country. He had a vision of utopia - an ancient farming society. To create this society, he sealed off the borders and rounded up all of the nation's educators, top business people, government officials and anyone else he felt might interfere from the modern world. Re-education" centers held 200,000 people over four years who were questioned, tortured and finally executed in the nearby killing fields. A further 1.5 million people died from starvation and brutality in the process of trying to build utopia's fields. One fifth of the country's population died under Pol Pot's regime.

This photograph was taken at the Choung Ed Genocide Center, also known as "the killing fields." Here, a tall stupa of skulls, arranged by race, age, and sex, stands among shallow pits in the ground. The skulls each sit, telling their story, but all at once, in such a way that no individual could be heard. I tried to pull my mind away from the masses of skulls, to choose just one to listen to...

The Vietnamese, in response to attacks on their towns in the Mekong delta, invaded, took control, and ruled Cambodia for 10 years. King Sihanouk, who had been fighting for his people from exile, was invited back to power in 1991. Pol Pot and his most loyal people hid in the jungles of north-east Cambodia through all of this time and days before being captured to stand trial before a US court, died of a heart attack, leaving the country finally at peace in 1998. www.edwebproject.org has further Khmer Rouge information.
Photography notes: I wanted to highlight
Camera modelE-10
Exposure time1/80 sec
Metering modeSpot
Focal Length31.0 mm
just one skull among many, and finally found this shelf with only one turned upwards. The lighting was dark, but that wasn't an issue, as I wanted a small depth of field to highlight the single skull. The photo was originally in color, but the yellow color of the skulls was contrasting with the solemn mood of the setting. Changing the mode to grayscale (Black and White) solved this problem, as well as reducing the impact of the brightness on the skulls in the front of the picture. The lines of skulls heading toward the upturned one helps to draw the eye from the front skulls to the subject piece, while also adding a claustrophobic feeling, emphasizing the theme of one voice among many.
Trip: South East Asia