Visions of Angkor by...Tyta Buth

by Tyta Buth

Published: September 2022

In 2022, Angkor was quiet, its timeless silence only clouded by antique grass mowers and repairing teams toiling over the Bayon towers and the Elephant Terrace. The pandemic-induced, long respite given to this tourist crowd magnet was an ideal time for art lovers, photographers to wander, ponder and immerge themselves into the ever-changing plays of light and shadow over the stones.

"Without any doubt, Angkor feels like a world of a different realm - a magical entity filled with energy greater than life (the life we only know) itself," she shared with Angkor Database for this post; "I have visited Angkor Wat since I was a child and throughout my life whenever time takes me. Each time I visit, a new sensation unfolds and a yearn for understanding grows. I have always felt a connection with Angkor, perhaps because of my Khmer blood but it goes beyond what the physical holds. The magic in Angkor remains a blessing for any soul who is ready to understand more of what life really is beyond the reach of our five senses. This is a place where you truly have to look with your heart rather than your eyes. To look without opening your eyes but through the sounds, the smells and the spirits that still protecting this grand monument until now."

As an explorer of female portrait photography, Tyta obviously took her time to wonder through the hundreds of apsaras of Angkor, noticing one who seemed to be sitting. "Even Apsaras need to sit sometimes, take a rest in their graceful dancing!", she exclaimed. After studying more closely this particular figure (see photo and detail above), it seems that the celestial dancer seems more to be crouching, like at the start or at the end of the sampeah (solemn salutation) kneeling position. Yet the notion of 'a pause in perennial movement' perfectly matches the serenity of Angkor these days.

Tags: female representations, Angkor daily life, photography

About the Photographer

Portrait of Tyta   Buth

Tyta Buth

Tyta Buth, artist name Tytaart (b. 3 Nov. 1996, Phnom Penh, Cambodia) is a Cambodian photographer who developed her passion while studying at the New York Parsons School of Art and Design.

After exploring street candid photography, she has focused since her return to Cambodia on portrait photography, from fashion models to humble villagers. Her work has been featured in several exhibitions in Phnom Penh.

Whilereflecting in March 2020 about the photographic representation of women, the Western controversy around 'male gaze' and 'female gaze', she remarked: "I've been influenced by the work of two great portrait photographers who are men, Ryan Muirhead and Alessio Albi. Of course female physical beauty has too often been instrumentalized to arouse only men, but there is also some kind of 'serene gaze', a way to look at women which is not predatory. I think of the apsaras of Angkor."