Reconstructing God: Style, Hydraulics, Political Power and Angkor's West Mebon Viṣṇu

Southeast Asian Studies_2024-02-01
01 Feb 2024 04.30 PM - 06.00 PM Alumni, Current Students, Industry/Academic Partners, Prospective Students, Public
Organised by:
SoH Southeast Asian Studies

This is a hybrid seminar.

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The West Mebon Viṣṇu is the largest bronze statue remaining from pre-modern Southeast Asia, and a work of great artistic, historical and political significance. Prominently placed in an island-temple in the middle of the vast artificial reservoir, the West Mebon Viṣṇu sculpture was a key focal point of the Angkorian hydraulic network. Interpretations of the statue, its setting, date and role, have remained largely unchanged since the 1960s, until now. Integrating the latest archaeological and historical work on Angkor, extensive art historical analysis of the figure of Viṣṇu Anantaśāyin in Hindu-Buddhist art across the region, and a detailed digital reconstruction of the sculpture and its setting, Marnie Feneley sheds new light on this important piece.

Framed with a useful update on the latest archaeological and historical insights into the history of the Angkor World Heritage Site, this new understanding of the West Mebon Viṣṇu sculpture reorients our understanding of religious and political change in Angkor in the 12th century. Fully illustrated in colour throughout, the book will be of interest to art historians and curators, historians of Southeast Asia, and anyone with an interest in the art and history of Angkor.

Marnie Feneley is an accomplished scholar, with 20 years of experience in academia, museums and galleries in Australia and Southeast Asia. She specialises in the nexus between Southeast Asian art history, archaeology and religion. She has researched and co-curated many exhibitions, including the “Atlas of Maritime Buddhism” and “Buddhist Artworks” (Hong Kong, 2021), pioneering 3D immersive reconstructions of Asian temples and sculptures.