Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Out of order

© the eye of Lady Penh
This has really bugged me today. Lady Penh is a new 'what's on' website that is providing a very helpful schedule of events taking place in Phnom Penh each day. However in recent weeks they seem to be branching out into other areas like interviews and today they have a 'picture of the day,' which is when I got angry. Its a photo taken at the Angkorean temple at Phnom Chisor (located south of Phnom Penh) and their caption suggests they have no problem with this type of defacing of an ancient monument.
The caption reads: Old stones, new love, Fancy a day trip around Phnom Penh? Old stones and new love from Phnom Chisor (off highway 2) - The world will always welcome lovers - as time goes by... With love from Lady Penh!
Sorry guys but that's well out of order. You are condoning the use of graffiti on ancient temples as harmless and that's totally unacceptable in my view. On my travels around the country, I have seen this 'lover's graffiti' at several ancient sites including Phnom Banan in Battambang and Banteay Chhmar and it makes my blood boil. To me it's simple. The perpetrators have no respect for Khmer culture or their own heritage and if caught, they should face stiff penalties. This form of graffiti is one step away from daubing the temples in spray-paint and worse. If we don't take action now to nip this in the bud, it will get worse, as it has around the globe. We are already fighting against the tide of thefts of carvings from the temples. Now we have to teach the youth to respect their heritage and to keep their love letters to themselves.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against graffiti in its rightful place, ie. an art exhibition or artist's space but ancient monuments are a no-go area for graffiti. I've even posted some on this blog from the derelict hotel on Bokor and from the stairways at Tuol Sleng, but neither examples were harming the essence of the location in my view - although I could argue against myself for the S-21 graffiti! Anyhow, rant over. The folks at Lady Penh do a good job but graffiti on ancient monuments is harmful and should not be condoned.

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10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

the love note actually looks like its written in thai script, not khmer script.. ^_^

July 15, 2009 at 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kudos to you for pointing that out, Andy. The public needs to be more aware of how precious these monuments are!!! Lady Penh 0 Andy Brouwer 1:)

July 16, 2009 at 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a crucial question: is it Khmer or Thai script?????? - Sonja

July 16, 2009 at 12:34 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

I value the 'what's on' service that Lady Penh provides, but I simply didn't like their perceived stance regarding that photo. However they have now put a warning with it, which is helpful.

Whether its Khmer or Thai doesn't matter. Its graffiti, the same as which I have seen on other ancient temples, including some temples at Angkor. The same rule applies in whatever language it is, the person is defacing the monument and should be punished. As a rule of thumb, we should teach EVERYONE not to deface the monuments, starting with the youth of Cambodia.
Andy

July 16, 2009 at 3:48 PM  
Anonymous SAMBAL said...

I agree with you entirely Andy. Most graffiti is just plain ugly and not much better than what a dog does when it lifts its leg to mark its territory. (Banksy is the exception in my opinion). This is just plain vandalism. Lady Penh should be more responsible. I hope they get your message.

July 16, 2009 at 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS IT KHMER OR THAI SCRIPT?

July 17, 2009 at 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi andy the note IS written in THAI script sure, I showed photo my teacher, thats it! go look WAT PHO in BKK, you will not find any thing the sort, but in Cambodia they think they can do everything they fanci like Thai soap star insulting some years ago - Phim

July 17, 2009 at 4:15 PM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

The larger script is in Thai I believe, the smaller one in Khmer, so my colleagues tell me. However as I said, it doesn't matter what script its in as I have seen Khmer script daubed on other temples and we need to get our own house in order 1st.
It would be great to get the message out to schools to tell the children that its definitely NOT okay to chalk/write your name on ancient temples. If you love someone tell them face to face, give them a handwritten note, send them an SMS - do not write on a temple wall. Tell them that doing so will bring their relationship bad luck or something, just get the message home to them :-)
Andy

July 17, 2009 at 4:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The small writing is Khmer, the big is Thai. It says "Mee rak, mee kwarm..." and something unintelliglable.

July 19, 2009 at 1:56 AM  
Blogger huotdara said...

I share your anger and I just can not understand the silliness of those youngsters expressing thier love by writing on those ancient stones.... they are so @#@!#@$#.... Thanks for brining this up... and no thanks to ladypenh.com

July 21, 2009 at 1:33 PM  

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