Munich, February 2017. "Shaded Memories. The Shadow over Cambodia. Photographs by Ann-Christine Woehrl" is the title of a special exhibition starting on 17 February 2017 at the Museum Fünf Kontinente. For the first time in Germany a museum focuses on the traces of Cambodia’s dark past. In 1975 the dictator Pol Pot (1925/28–1998) began to violently and brutally implement his vision of a classless agrarian society. The consequences of this policy were disastrous and have left their mark to this day on the traumatised population. Between 1975 and 1979 nearly two million people died – one quarter of Cambodia’s population. They were murdered, starved or died from disease and exhaustion. Whoever owned books, could read, speak a foreign language or wore glasses was considered an intellectual. At the end of the Red Khmer’s reign of terror only thirty teachers remained in all of Cambodia. This is the tragic outcome of one of the greatest genocides of the 20th century.
The Munich photographer Ann-Christine Woehrl travelled repeatedly to Cambodia starting in 2013. She visited the former S-21 prison in in Phnom Penh, numerous killing fields and the UN Tribunal established in 2006 for the prosecution of these crimes – scenes of horrors and the first, cautious appraisal. Woehrl‘s documentation of these locations is a nightmarish testimony of these inconceivable events. Looking at the photos from the S-21 prison, one can almost feel the inhuman acts which took place there. The prison has been a museum, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, since 1979. With the photos exhibited there, it has become a place of commemoration for the people murdered there. The faces of the men, women and children who were photographed immediately after their arrest and whose biographies were documented reflects all the prisoners‘ suffering and hopelessness. Woehrl’s works are personal, intimate reflections which immediately captivate the observer.
The exhibition is accompanied by works from the museum’s South Asia Department.