Ghost of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum #3, from the series In the Eclipse of Angkor: Tuol Sleng, Choeung Ek, and Khmer Temples
Binh Danh poetically alludes to the fragility of life through unique photographic processes, including chlorophyll printing. In this series, he preserves the memory of children who were among the estimated 2 million people killed during the Khmer Rouge’s regime of terror in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979. Using photographs taken at the Tuol Sleng prison before executions, Danh’s remarkable technique starts with the creation of a negative transparency of each child’s likeness. Using a sheet of glass to securely hold the negative overtop a living leaf and exposing it to sunlight, Danh is able to harness the natural process of photosynthesis to develop one-of-a-kind images, which he then sets in resin. Each leaf bears witness to a life abruptly cut short in one of the 20th century’s most devastating genocides. In the daguerreotype from the same series, Danh uses the antiquated silver-plate process to create a haunting and highly-reflective image. The glass-like surface forces us to confront our own reflection as we view the portrait of a young Cambodian girl.