By Southwester Staff

An archeological treasure set in a mountain cave above the Cambodian landscape can now be viewed up close and in person at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Asian Art’s latest exhibit, Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain.

The exhibition showcases a monumental sculpture of the Hindu god Krishna lifting Mount Govardhan to protect his people from a torrential storm. For the first time, the sculpture is explored in the context of its original environment, as part of a multi-religious landscape and quite literally built into a mountain. This larger than life-size sculpture is one of eight monumental deity figures recovered from cave temples on the two-peaked mountain of Phnom Da near the ancient metropolis of Angkor Borei. 

The exhibition tells the life story of this sculptural masterpiece—spanning 1,500 years and three continents—and unveils the newly restored Krishna in an exhibition that integrates art, immersive video installations, and interactive designs. 

The installations include floor-to-ceiling projections of the canals of the Mekong River delta and Phnom Da filmed with a drone and a three-camera rig mounted on a boat. The sculpture is presented with an interactive, motion-activated projection that provides detailed views of the sculpture’s unique iconography. These rarely seen views of the ancient sculpture are projected life-size through animations of high-resolution 3D models with a digital recreation of how the sculpture is believed to have appeared when installed in its cave sanctuary.

The exhibit also features the short documentary Satook, which examines how religious sites, objects and practices transform in response to generational, geographic and political change.  Four survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide share their personal experiences and memories of their parents and reflect on their communities and journeys of belief.

The exhibition is now on view and will close September 18, 2022.

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