In 'Scanning', Cambodian-born Amy Lee Sanford continues her investigation into notions of memory, such as forgetting, remembering, longing, and loss through the manipulation and re-presenting of a selection of some 250 found letters. The correspondence, which took place over a period of five years, was an exchange between her adopted mother in the United States, and biological father who remained in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, during the civil war of 1970–1975 under Lon Nol’s reign, followed by the Khmer Rouge occupation in 1975.
The work unfolds in a measured and unhurried fashion; the repetition of placing, flipping and scanning of the sheets of onion-skin thin papered letters bears a ceremonious, significantly cathartic quality – as though the mundanity of photocopying the undecipherable scrawls carries the act of
re-acknowledging, re-recording, and archiving. It suggests an almost forensic activity that enacts a means of remembering – or not losing of data, as well as ‘memories’ exchanged and carried – between Sanford’s parents.
Image rights: Singapore Art Museum collection