Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mali Kouanchao's S-21

S-21 is a mixed media painting, measuring 48" x 30" and is one of Lao Minnesotan visual artist Mali Kouanchao's earliest pieces examining the journey of Cambodian Americans from the Killing Fields to the United States. In addition to her work with Legacies of War, Kouanchao has maintained an active concern for Cambodian refugees, particularly deportees, whose journeys she is frequently documenting in her Displacement series.

S-21 refers to the former high school that is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (Khmer: សារមន្ទីរឧក្រិដ្ឋកម្មប្រល័យពូជសាសន៍ទួលស្លែង) in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The former high school was used as the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21) by the Khmer Rouge regime from its rise to power in 1975 to its fall in 1979. Tuol Sleng (Khmer [tuəl slaeŋ]) means "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" or "Strychnine Hill".

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