Hervas Editions, Paris 1988
Size : 20×25 cm, 128 pages, 90 coloured illustrations + photos and texts
Price : 20 € + delivery cost
Order : Association Phare- 86 Plage de l’Estaque Marseille 13016
« At the beginning of the Art class in 1986, just a few people came to see us in the Art Class and as the children’s visual expression gained in technical quality and in intensity of meaning more and more visitors came to have a look at it.
Then some visitors started telling me that these drawings and watercolours were of such a quality that I had to make them known as widely as possible. And when I decided to conclude the first year of the Art class with an auction of their work, because I wanted my children to experience a different relationship to others than that of the refugee’s context of disaster and in dire need of aid agencies (that is to say you can only know it if you have experienced it yourself, the dependent person receiving aid being at the mercy of anything and anyone). Other people told me that I did not have the right to disperse what was already promising to be a precious testimony of Cambodia’s recent history.
This is why during the auction I set myself up in the position of buying a certain number of the watercolours, too beautiful and too fine to let them be dispersed and so I withdrew from the sale 3 or 4 pieces of work which were definitely too exceptional to risk my not being able to bid (our salaries at COERR – a Thai ONG- were extremely modest and could not rival those of other ONGs and United Nations Organisms). Anyway to my utter surprise, most of the paintings I deemed irreplaceable were barely contested to me when others I considered as minor provoked fabulous bids.
It is the works I bought that constitute the book « Journey to the dreams of children living at the Borders» and furthermore it is these works which motivated the creation of the Association Phare in order to carry the project over to make known these precious pieces of Art to a successful conclusion and as a testimony of the children’s lives. »
Seng Sophearoat (10 ans) Site 2, 1987
In the painting above, Roat is answering the agonizing question: « What is life like in a refugee Camp? » A refugee Camp where the very same day repeats itself indifferently during these never-ending years of waiting, where it is not possible to project either into a past which was made of the Khmer Rouge horror, or into any future since it is impossible to foretell the length of time of this endless present (and as far as refugees are concerned it will be a matter of 13 years in the camp). But Roat, in « the painting within the painting » is telling us that everything can be transformed as long as one becomes aware of choices that are available even in such contexts. He is telling us about the hidden face of things, about the verdant hills behind the dull and flat landscapes. He is asking us to believe him when he speaks as he is our witness.
« I have never met these children. I did not need them to talk to me to hear them speak. They drew me back in time, to15 years or so. I had set off to research the plight of the Vietnamese children at the end of the war. I brought back with me a few of their drawings, and these drawings were revealing their inner torment in contrast to the scenes of idyllic villages. The drawings are telling us two stories in terms of deep wounds to both the individuals and their community. There is like a connivance between this social tragedy and the tragic dimension of every individual life.
The beauty of the drawings testify without doubt to a cultural richness, and to the vital links between the children and their heritage. Nevertheless the aestheticism has as well a defensive function: to camouflage the trauma, to protect oneself of a serious threat, and of a terrible violation of the self.
.Finally, one should read these drawings as a gift, in this sense, the creative quality denotes the quality of the relationship taking place with the teacher. »