The Angkor’s Faces Series of Silk Carvings and Cambodia’s Past and Present
April 23, 2009
It’s already quite a while ago since I started with the Angkor’s Faces and Figures series of silk carvings. Well – I decided to go back to that series and to start a new project. As I already said in the last post about re-working an old silk carving project a happy serendipity took place so I grabbed the chance for a new start.
Somehow I am currently drawn back to Asian influenced art i.e. the figures, faces and landscapes you’ll find in southeast Asia. Maybe it’s the soothing and calming charisma of Buddhist art that has a very positive effect on soul and mind, an environment I have always felt at home with.
Before I introduce the new project to you I will show you the former start of the series and how I came to work on this kind of fiber art i.e. silk sculpture.
The first piece of the Angkor’s faces was this one, an Apsara. Hundreds of them can be found as basreliefs on the walls of the temple districts in Cambodia. The most famous one is Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat was built in the 9th to 14th century and the Khmer empire was the most powerful empire in that region. They controlled a large part of today’s Vietnam and Thailand. Then the power changed – at some stage the Vietnamese controlled the empire, then Siamese (Thai), then it became a Spanish colony, later in 1863 the French took over – this time ended in 1953 through a military defeat.
The war in Vietnam ended when the Red Khmer took over in 1975 with Pol Pot being one of the cruelest and most brutal terror leaders of the history. He and his butchers murdered more than 2 millions of their own people, chasing the whole population from the cities into the country with the intent to exterminate all intelligence, extinct all scientific education in order to build a complete socialist farmer’s state. The result was no medical care any more and hardly 3000 teachers left in the whole country at the end of the regime.
A sad role in this tragedy played the USA who completely lost their face in this conflict due to the wrong decisions of a few politicians. As usual the American people had to pay the price.
But the biggest price the Cambodians had to pay themselves. Not only was half of their population murdered – they are suffering until today from landmines because the whole country had been mined with millions!! of landmines and no-one had documented where they were.
Cambodia has the one of the highest rates of physical disability of any country in the world. Probably more than 40,000 Cambodians have suffered amputations as a result of mine injuries since 1979, an average of nearly forty victims a week for a period of twenty years.
The Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) estimates that there may be as many as four to six million mines and unexploded ordinances in Cambodia. In 1998, there were 1,249 known new casualties. While the Khmer Rouge were the worst offenders, the CMAC reports that mines found in Cambodia have been manufactured in the US, China, Vietnam, the former USSR and East Germany, the former Czechoslovakia, India, Chile, South and North Korea, Thailand, Iran, Iraq, South Africa, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslavia, Hungary, and Poland (source: Landmines in Cambodia).
Cambodia is a poor country. 35 % of the population are living below the national poverty level. Agriculture and forestry are the main economic sectors for development and for the abatement of poverty. Statistically (Human Development Index 2007/8 of the UN) the country is on place 131 (from 177). There is no noteworthy industry besides a small textile and leather industry, noteworthy natural resources have not been developed so far although oil and gas resources have been discovered in the golf of Thailand in front of the Cambodian coast. Cambodia’s main asset is still their culture and the income from tourism (source: Auswärtiges Amt).
To honour the history of this country and its tragic fate the following work was created:
|Angkor’s Faces I
14″ x 14″, Silk
In the detail you can see that the silk has been sculptured into a basrelief. Finally the silk carving has been painted with the addition of metallic pigments.