In 1866, the Scottish photographer John Thomson and the young Frenchman Emille Giselle took the first photographs of Angkor Wat. It was an expensive, dangerous and cumbersome process using toxic chemicals, heavy wood cameras and large, delicate glass plates. There was no internet to upload.
Earlier this year, to mark this historic event, Jim Mizersk published Cambodia Captured: Angkor’s First Photographers In 1860’s Colonial Intrigues.
With this inspiration, there is now a show where you too can learn about the early photography on Angkor, in SNAP! 150 Years of Photography in Cambodia.
We have sifted through photographic libraries, spending time at the Wat Damnak Centre for Khmer Studies and digging through the collections of friends to give you an engaging view of Cambodia’s modern history through the photographer’s lens.
Images and short archival film clips trace Cambodia’s history from colonialism to independence, the Khmer Rouge struggles and finally, to an era of peace.
Maybe you’ll see the earliest known silent movie taken at Angkor in 1910 of the Royal Ballet as Heang Leang, our resident musician, plays a haunting flute while it flickers on the screen.
Enjoy a clip from one of King Sihanouk’s many movies, Apsara, made in 1964. It’s a fascinating book-end to how the Royal Ballet evolved from a private, court-centred company to the popular, and very public Apsara dance that you can see today.
Each week’s presentation is slightly different from the past. It could be likened to a TED talk focused on Cambodia. It’s an evolving story as new stuff comes to light.
Come and enjoy a deeper insight of Cambodia’s history, especially that time in the 1960’s and 1970’s when the Vietnam War was raging and the modern world was influencing local politics and popular music, film and fashion.