Visions of Angkor by...Mimi Palgen-Maisonneuve

by Mimi Palgen-Maisonneuve

From 1946 to 1962, Mimi Palgen-Maisonneuve captured precious landscapes and daily life moments of Cambodia. Through her lens, the flooded districts of Phnom Penh in the 1950s, night-time Khmer sacred dance performances, women and men of faraway villages, and the majestic temples of the Angkorean area, are pictured with a remarkable sense of detail, and a profound empathy.

The MimiJac Palgen Memorial Collection at Arizona State University (ASU, USA) includes original photographs, photographic negatives, slides, support literature, 8 regional decorative objects and assorted postcards, cards and flyers of Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia. The photograph-negative collection consists of over 1,000 black and white, self-developed Rolleiflex negatives and photographs of urban and rural Cambodia, and around 500 black and white negatives taken in the Angkor area.

The collection is associated with the Southeast Asia Digital Library, an online resource created by the Northern Illinois University Libraries. The Bophana Center in Phnom Penh also keeps several prints from Mimi Palgen's photographic work. The catalogue of this collection can be viewed here.

Photos from ASU Digital Repository.

Below: Mimi Palgen in Phnom Penh, circa 1952.

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About the Photographer

Mimi Palgen-Maisonneuve

Mimi Palgen-Maisonneuve (1918-1995) was a photographer and a journalist with Radio-Cambodge, active in Cambodia during the decades 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.

Married to Jacques Palgen, who was a professor of geodesy and photogrammetry, and a scientific consultant with the United Nations, Mimi extensively traveled through Southeast Asia and the Far East. Her work in Cambodia covers Angkor restoration, daily life in the cities and countryside, with an emphasis on women and ethnic minorities such as the Khmer Leu (mountain tribes of the Northeast).

The major part of her photoprints is archived at the MimiJac Palgen Memorial Collection, Arizona State University (ASU) Library.

Photo: Mimi Palgen-Maisonneuve with two Phneung young women, Northeast Cambodia, circa 1952 (MimiJac Palgen Cambodian Photographs Collection, ASU)

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