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The Originals

The Originals are illustrations and narratives that were collected between December 1970 and May 1971 in the Vientiane refugee camps, where U.S. bombings victims fled to. The drawings and narratives represent those who endured an air war campaign perpetuated in secrecy. Drawn primarily in pencil, pens, crayons and markers, they are raw and stark, reflecting the crude events that shaped their reality. The authenticity of the narration and drawings emphasize the illustrators, not as artists or writers, but ordinary villagers who bore witness to a devastating event.


Each of the illustrations demonstrate the violence of warfare. However, the images of blood and death are contradicted by the memories of the scenic and peaceful village life these survivors once lived. Scenes show farmers tending to their rice fields, monks praying at the temple, women going to the market and children playing in the schoolyard. The drawings reveal that these memories of their simple and peaceful life are abruptly halted as they become tarnished with violence, death and loss. They capture the very moments when their lives and society were forever altered. The illustrations and narratives are accompanied by historical photos, maps and other relevant documents to give context to the decade-long bombings.

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