In okay bye-bye, so named for what Cambodian children shouted to the U.S. ambassador in 1975 as he took the last helicopter out of Phnom Phenh in advance of the Khmer Rouge, Rebecca Baron explores the relationship of history to memory. She questions whether, “image and memory can occupy the same space.” Building on excerpts from letters, found super-8 footage of an unidentified Cambodian man, iconographic photographs from the Vietnam War and other partial images, Baron combines epistolary narrative, memoir, journalism, and official histories to question whether something as monumental as the genocidal slaughter of Cambodians during the Pol Pot regime can be examined effectively with traditional methodologies.
“In treading a very fine line between documentary and personal diary, okay bye-bye suggests that treating history as a discourse different from other forms of memory is misleading…
Following the photographs of the victims of a Cambodian political prison from their status as mug shots to their commodification as part of a gallery exhibition, and comparing Richard Nixon’s cult of personality to Pol Pot’s utter lack of one, Baron proposes that what is worse than forgetting the past is, “forgetting the relationship between the past and the present.”
–2000 Whitney Biennial exhibition catalogue.