Angkor – Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City Catalogue
The Asian Civilisations Museum presented the exhibition, Angkor: Exploring Cambodia’s Sacred City in 2018. The exhibition was organised in collaboration with the Musée Guimet in Paris, and featured many rare Khmer sculptures, alongside with french drawings, photographs, and memorabilia from Musée d’Orsay. The objects collectively tell the story of the French encounter with Cambodia and its sensational emergence onto the international stage. Just as the world slowly came to understand the mysteries hidden in and around Angkor through over 150 years of scholarship, starting from the time when the French colonialist chanced upon the monuments and the knowledge that they gradually gained, the book was designed to simulate this journey.
Using this idea of re-discovery of Angkor by the French explorers and the drawings that made at the time, the use of diagonal lines around in the book, not only allude to perspective lines using as guides in architectural and archaeological drawings, but are also placed in a way as if to reveal something within, just as the explorers might also have as they saw the monuments emerge from amongst the forest.
The relationship between France and Cambodia became irrevocably intertwined through the European colonial expansion into Asia; the lines, like markings made to indicate a presence, symbolises a relic—both intangible in form of academic knowledge and tangible through drawings and paraphernalia—that the French left as a legacy that is still actively continued till today through the immense of archaeological, art historical and ethnological work done on the Khmer civilisation.