The image of checkerboard mustard yellow and white tiles never fails to instantly conjure up in my head the story of Tuol Sleng, now a museum in Phnom Penh documenting the history of the site as S-21, a former Khmer Rouge site where prisoners brought in were interrogated, tortured, imprisoned, and subsequently taken away to be executed at the notorious Choeung Ek killing fields just outside the city, which I paid my second trip to back in September. The museum is the most visited landmark in Cambodia that commemorates the Cambodian genocide.
These tiles, some cleaner than others that lay dulled and sullied by blood, are everywhere throughout the rooms of the complex. I can no longer separate this pattern and these two colors from that history anymore. But, I found this speckled tile, in one of the rooms of the museum, to be a rather presumptuous standout piece, looking up, in defiance of how the genocide defiled even the everyday material object.