Reflections on naked temple shoots

A spate of nude photographs taken in Angkor has been in the news lately (see here, here, here, here, here and here), and for people shaking their heads, the big question is why anyone would want to do this in the first place. Fundamentally, it is a lack of respect from visitors to the site. I’ve seen my Cambodian friends call out other Cambodians for not dressing appropriately when visiting the temples, and the reason they do not call tourists out on it is because they are aware of how important tourism is to the economy (and often, the reluctance to use an angry tone of voice towards guests). So it’s very distasteful when your guests take advantage of your hospitality and act extremely inappropriately in a sacred you hold sacred. I personally would not mind if there are stiffer penalties against people who are caught taking nude photos in the temples: stiffer fines and actual jail time (instead of suspended sentences and deportation). Linked are two pieces, one from the Phnom Penh Post and one from my colleague Dr Alison Carter on the matter.

Naked temple shoots perplex
Phnom Penh Post, 13 February 2015

The real problem with taking naked photos at Angkor
Alison in Cambodia, 13 February 2015

Pundits are split on how to tackle a spate of “offensive” naked photos taken by tourists at the Angkor Archaeological Park in recent weeks, with suggestions ranging from ignoring the antics to overhauling visitation to the World Heritage site.

In less than a month, the Kingdom has kicked out seven foreigners for public nudity, including two American sisters and three French tourists who, in separate cases, disrobed at different ancient temples in the Siem Reap complex and posed for pictures.

Further, the Apsara Authority, which manages the archaeological site and has vowed to boost security in response, is investigating two more sets of naked pictures taken amid the ruins, including one captioned “hakuna matata” that features a naked couple wearing animal masks.

See the pieces here and here.

Related Posts

Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *