The works that I am presenting at (un)SCENE 2015 were photographed at the site of notorious Cambodian dictator Pol Pot's Security Prison 21(S-21) in the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. The prison of the Khmer Rouge was notorious for it's cruelty, and many of the prisoners were tortured to death, starved to death, or buried alive in the "Killing Fields" of Cambodia. More than 25% of the population died during Pol Pot's four-year reign from 1975-1979, which is considered one of the most extreme political genocides of the 20th century. Urban dwellers, many of whom were highly educated individuals, were forced to moved to the countryside to work in collective farms and do forced labour. The combination of malnutrition, poor medical care and labour caused the deaths of what is estimated to be as many as 3 million people. Hundreds of thousands of people were also forced to dig their own mass graves where they were buried alive. The Security Prison 21(S-21), also known as Tuol Sleng, which translates to "Hill of the Poisonous Trees" was one of 150 execution centers in Cambodia, where an estimated 20,000 prisoners died. Visiting the site I was struck by the symbolism of the barbed wires that surrounded the prison. To me they represented the essence of cruelty, the barbaric nature of genocide itself, in every spoke of the wire which was used in captivity to surpress human freedom.
From a young age I studied painting, drawing, printmaking as well as photography and filmmaking. The first time I picked up a camera I was 15 years old. Since that day, it became an obsession - working with light and forms, creating stories out of moments of time. My personal work has always been highly figurative, although in recent years I have become more experimental, taking my inspiration into new directions by working with sculpture, 3 dimensional elements and more abstract concepts. I have always traveled extensively for my productions, and continue to be inspired by the unknown and the untold stories that can reveal themselves. For many generations my family has worked in legal professions. As the daughter of a very prolific lawyer, who handles many human rights cases, I have always been inspired by personal stories, historical concepts and finding the beauty in revealing the truth.
About Indira Cesarine
Touted as a “photographic child prodigy,” Indira Cesarine’s first solo exhibition was at the age of 16 at the Paul Mellon Arts Center. She is a multimedia artist who works with photography, video, painting, printmaking and sculpture. Her work has been exhibited internationally at many art galleries, museums and festivals, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Getty Images Gallery, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, French Embassy Cultural Center, Art Basel Miami, and Cannes Film Festival to name a few. In 2014, her public art sculpture, “The Egg of Light” was exhibited at Rockefeller Center.
Cesarine began her career in photography in the 1990s, having worked as an international photographer for renowned publications including Vogue, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar. She has been cited as “one of the most talented photographers working today.” In 2009 she launched publication The Untitled Magazine of which she is currently Editor-in-Chief. Cesarine lives and works in Tribeca, New York.