VANDY RATTANA (CAMBODIA / JAPAN)
Vandy Rattana (b. 1980, Phnom Penh, Cambodia) began his photography practice in 2005 concerned with the lack of physical documentation accounting for the stories, traits, and monuments unique to his culture. His serial work employed a range of analog cameras and formats, straddling the line between strict photojournalism and artistic practice. Rattana is interested in filmmaking as a method of historical documentation.
In 2014, he co-founded Ponleu Association, which aims to provide access to international reference books, through their translation and publication in Khmer. It also publishes its own books, focusing on various fields of knowledge (philosophy, literature, science, etc.) http://ponleu.org/en/
In 2009, he co-founded Sa Sa Art Gallery. In 2011, he helped establish SA SA BASSAC, the first dedicated exhibition spaces for contemporary art in Cambodia.
Vandy Rattana lives and works between Phnom Penh and Tokyo.
Theme: Social Science and Collective Memory
Friday, 4 November 2016
Duration (mins): 18:55
In Monologue, the only sound – the artist’s voice – is directed toward his sister whom he has never met. Killed during the ‘cultural’ cleansing of the Khmer Rouge
(1975– 79), she rests somewhere beneath a small measured plot of land alongside his grandmother and five thousand Cambodians, marked by two Pum Sen mango trees. As he visits their gravesite, the monologue narration shifts between experiences of his family during the Pol Pot* genocide to his almost trancelike murmur of the wounds that it left behind.
Piecing together personal narrative and historical record, Rattana’s film is a tribute to the victims of a political catastrophe. His sister’s grave resembles thousands of others across the country: unmarked, fertile agricultural land. As Cambodia struggles as a developing economy after the Khmer Rouge regime, the remnants of the victims become but a faint echo of the past, slowly disappearing without any documentation. The towering mango trees symbolize post-genocide Cambodia, slowly gaining nutrients from blood-soaked soil, its foliage covering a dark patch of Cambodian history.
Monologue is Rattana’s act of witness, and subversive testimonial against the corrosive tide of national development and human forgetfulness. The film invites the audience to join a conversation about the need for historical documentation and collective healing in a post-traumatic community.
Note: *Pol Pot (1925 – 1998), born Saloth Sar, was the leader of the Khmer Rouge – the Communist party of Cambodia. Under his totalitarian dictatorship, his government forced urban dwellers to work in collective farms and labor projects in the countryside. The combined effects of executions, strenuous working conditions, malnutrition, and poor medical care caused the deaths of approximately 25 percent of the Cambodian population during his short 4 years in power.
Country: Cambodia. Genre: Fiction. Language: Khmer. Co-Production: Jeu de Paume and CAPC Musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux. Cinematography: Vandy Rattana.
Camera: Yin Touchmony. Image Post-production: Vandy Rattana. Coordination of Post-production: Vandy Rattana