Pete Pin: Cambodian Diaspora
May 17 from 4:30pm6pm
May 17 from 6pm7pm
Monday-Thursday, 8:00am to 8:00pm; Friday, 8:00am to 4:00pm;
Saturday, 8:00am to 12:00pm
For over two years I have been photographing in Cambodian communities across the U.S., generating intergenerational dialogue around unspoken memories. As a son of the Killing Fields born in 1982 in the refugee camp to which my family had fled following the Cambodian genocide, I have struggled for most of my life to understand the legacy of my people. They are among the most heavily traumatized people in modern memory, the human aftermath of a cultural, political, and economic revolution by the Khmer Rouge that killed an estimated two million, nearly a third of the entire population, within a span of four years from 1975-1979. That tragedy casts a long shadow on the lives of Cambodians that bleeds generationally, manifesting itself across generations.
As a result of the unique demographic circumstances of the genocide, there has been a paucity of reflection within the Cambodian community. Many second-generation Cambodians I have interviewed learned about the Killing Fields through secondary sources, from the Internet and documentary films. Such conversations were non-existent at home. Exacerbating the silence is an inter-generational language barrier - most young Cambodian Americans cannot speak Khmer, the Cambodian language, while their parents and grandparents are incapable of speaking English. As a result, we are the literal manifestation of Pol Pot's attempt to erase Cambodia's history and culture.