Nude photos draw Apsara Authority's ire

A topless woman poses for a photo at the temple of Banteay Kdei
A topless woman poses for a photo at the temple of Banteay Kdei in the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap. WANIMAL

Nude photos draw Apsara Authority's ire

Racy photos depicting a topless Apsara dancer reclining amid Angkorian ruins have incensed the government agency responsible for Angkor Park.

Shortly after the photos hit Facebook on Saturday, the Apsara Authority launched an investigation, and yesterday released a statement condemning the images as a tasteless affront to Khmer culture.

“Angkor is a religious, sacred site for Cambodian people. This kind of behaviour is very insulting not just to our religion but also to Khmer identity,” said Kerya Chau Sun, the spokesperson for Apsara Authority.

The controversial photos bear a watermark for “WANIMAL,” which Apsara Authority officials said they believe to be a Chinese company.

An account for Wanimal on the Chinese photo-sharing site Lofter features a series of images of naked or partially clothed women in exotic backgrounds. The account administrators did not immediately return request for comment yesterday.

The portraits of the topless woman in Apsara dancer garb were likely snapped during a quiet moment at the Banteay Kdei temple, said Khieu Thy, president of the Angkor Tourist Guide Association.

“The pictures are really photos [at the location], not edited by Photoshop,” said Thy, who compared the images to pornography.

Like many Cambodian temples, Banteay Kdei contains numerous carvings and reliefs of bare-breasted women skirting between the realms of heaven and Earth. But Chau Sun at the Apsara Authority said there is “no possible comparison” between the stone antiquities and the modern-day interpretation.

“When you insult someone’s culture, it’s not art at all,” she said.

The Apsara Authority said it plans to submit a complaint after gathering more information about the pictures. Yesterday the agency was unable to identify the photographer or determine whether the half-nude woman depicted was Cambodian, however.

Officials at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts said the investigation is up to the authority, while the Ministry of Information could not be reached yesterday about whether the photos could be considered illegal.

The government has previously taken issue with similar images. In 2009, it blocked an artist’s website when photos and paintings of scantily clad Apsara dancers offended the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh authorities ban march for Human Rights Day

    Phnom Penh authorities have banned a planned march as local NGOs and workers’ unions gear up to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on Monday, with a youth group leader saying they would march nonetheless. The UN

  • Phnom Penh’s Jet’s Container Night Market shuts down

    The famous Jet’s Container Night Market in central Phnom Penh has shut down due to the high cost of the land rental, company representatives claim. Jet’s Container Night Market is the largest such market in Phnom Penh. It operated for just over two

  • Hun Sen rejects ‘rift’ rumours spread by ‘stupid gangsters’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday denied a “rift” among top leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and rejected claims that Senate president Say Chhum and Interior Minister Sar Kheng were set to be removed from their positions as rumours spread by “gangsters”.

  • EU ambassador to Cambodia: Rights a ‘work in progress’

    The EU ambassador to Cambodia has called human rights “a work in progress” and said the 28-nation bloc has “carefully” noted last week’s statement by the government on taking further steps to strengthen democracy and the political sphere in the Kingdom. The EU marked