Photos by Marc Henrich
Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Site is named after the Lao revolutionary leader who lived here from 1975 until his death in 1992. Built by the Americans in the 1960’s, the compound was originally known as KM6, or « Six Clicks City », a name derived from its location, 6 km from the center of Vientiane, capital city. Initially, the compound was the headquarters for the USAID (United States Agency for International Development). As such, the design emulated a US suburb from the time: wide streets, two-and four-bedroom ranch-style houses, manicured lawns. In those days it was unclear where the humanitarian aid programs began and the CIA missions ended, and which so-called development aid was actually channeled into ‘war-related activities’.
Following the revolution of 1975, the compound became the headquarters of the Pathet Lao leadership. During Kaysone Phomvihane’s rule, the compound was extended to include a Central Committee Reception Hall, a Russian style wooden sauna donated by the Soviet government, and vegetable and medicinal herb gardens. The compound is maintained as it was at the time of Kaysone’s death.
Artist Project Statement
KM6, like many historical memorials, attempts to fix a moment in time (the impermanent) for eternity, to “seal” history within a specific era. This maintenance of the memorial in a fixed time zone, this attempt at keeping natural phenomena from interfering and time from intruding, requires a creative act, a fabrication. In a desire to participate in and engage this history I have placed myself in this other imagined space as an observer reflecting a subjective point of view from behind the camera. I have tried to mimic the process of history by “fixing” my photographs of this site to a specific era: 1950’s to the mid 1970’s, as if I had taken these images around the time the buildings were built. The photographs are the traces left behind from my imaginary journey– time and light have left their imprint– the images located somewhere between a record and a fiction.