Around Phnom Penh there are public sculptures of cultural heritage but only ancient, not modern. As the country is growing in young population today, Cambodia and Phnom Penh in particular needs both ancient and modern as a source of healing and reconciliation. The work of Séra would be the first modern sculpture inspired by ancient Khmer cultural heritage.
— Youk Chhang, Directeur of DC-Cam


Created and interpreted by Séra, the figures of this Memorial represent no specific personality.  They stand as nameless guardians, as witnesses to, and bearers of the great pain of a people.

The task of the artist has been in sculpting the silhouettes which evoke dignified benevolence awash with silent and graceful lamentation.

These statues made in bronze and built on a monumental scale will be set in counterpoint, emerging out of a unique dialogue with the majestic legacy of the Khmer statuary.  The ensemble will commemorate the tragic events beginning on April 17, 1975; but rather than reiterate their darkness, it will seek to invite the observer to compassion.  Séra aspires to evoke a feeling of deep empathy and of reconciliation; an invitation to make peace with oneself and to turn towards a more serene future while never forgetting the past.

 


Excerpt from an interview with Séra

E.Wight :  

Could you explain the significance of the figures having their limbs amputated?  You've said they are not supposed to represent anyone in particular - but are they supposed to be men or women?

SÉRA :  

These figures are symbolic which allows them to speak to and beyond individual identity.  They are as allegories recounting and expressing the convulsions of time and suffering endured by the victims of the Khmer Rouge period.  I represent neither man nor woman because I seek to evoke the human being.   As you know the Khmer Rouge wanted to break the Khmer people and above all, their identity, with their ideologies.  By representing figures without arms, even without heads, I speak of this mutilation of the mind and spirit as well as the body.  But this choice to sculpt incomplete or disfigured bodies goes beyond the recounting of mutilation or suffering: it touches directly my sculptural reference which is, and always has been, the Khmer statuary.  What is left to us today of the ancient statues are very often without heads, without arms.  Anyone walking through the National Museum or Angkor sees this clearly.  The significance of these figures, therefore, resides in their duality by evoking Khmer memory and history, of this century and of centuries past.  


 

Dancer; Koh Ker; 1,03 m.  
Mid-10th century
Musée Guimet, Paris

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