Hello, I’m Andreas.
I spent the quarter studying classical and contemporary art, religion, and culture in Southeast Asia, focusing on religious belief, myth, & folklore, cultural aesthetic & human ornamentation, art (specifically metal), reuse & sharing of ideas and influences, and also had a sub-focus in food, language, and clothing.
Questions I was exploring were: How are beliefs and rites of passage made tangible by symbolic objects and ornaments? How do cultures vary in their ritual ornamentation, and how do they share similarities? Ornamentation is one important aspect of humanity in which we all share a common thread – all cultures have practiced it, yet it has varied greatly. How have some cultures evolved from others, both in religious belief, and in aesthetic ritual? “Ritual Ornamentation” includes jewelry, tools, crowns, magical items, or utilitarian items used symbolically for religious ceremony or folkloric tradition.
This was what I set out to do. This is the first quarter of a three quarter project, so I’ve only begun to answer and refine some of these questions.
I arrived in Phnom Penh at the end of December, and went directly to the coast (Kep, known as the fancy beach for Khmer people, like the Hamptons) to spend the holidays with my wife and her father, who has been living in the region for the last fifteen years. The first thing I noticed en route was various shapes and sizes of potted plants and palm trees with a piece of tinsel or strand of flickering lights in celebration of Christmas. Then, in Kep, I noticed many abandoned mansions next to villas and resorts. This is the juxtaposition of Cambodia – a hybridization of cultures and time periods.
For the next two months, I travelled between Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar, looking at hybridization of cultures, the changing art scenes, as well as fashion and music, what becomes apparent to me is the difference between synchronization and hybridization. It’s not easy to do a summary of such an in depth, immersive, and life changing academic experience, but my PowerPoint will do more for explaining what I saw.