SOAS University of London

Department of the History of Art and Archaeology, School of Arts

Welcome to Champa, Mind the Gap: the Architectural Line-Drawings of Henri Parmentier

Julian Brown (SOAS)

Date: 28 January 2009Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 28 January 2009Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B104

Type of Event: Seminar

In July 1901, exactly a year after he was appointed to the Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient to carry out a survey of the archaeological vestiges of ancient Champa (c. 5th-15th centuries) , in what is now central and southern Vietnam, Henri Parmentier published his first article on Cham monuments in the school's Bulletin. The text was accompanied by a series of line drawings. A century later Parmentier's black-and-white ink drawings have become a standard component of the literature, museum displays and exhibitions on ancient Champa, framing the way we visualize the Cham world, especially since many of the buildings they depict have subsequently been drastically altered or destroyed. Always illustrations to the accompanying text, or decorative backgrounds to sculpture displays, but never objects of study in their own right, they are sometimes credited, sometimes not, and never dated. Superficially, they seem to be used to represent the past, while they are, however, themselves now part of the past. In this paper I uncover the complex temporality within which these drawings operate and examine how they mediate between the present and multiple pasts. By investigating what they are and how they function, and contextualizing them within their Western Beaux-Arts tradition, I raise questions not only about representation and the power of images to tell history, but also about art and science, fact and fiction, archaeology and architecture, preservation and restoration. The paper also highlights the aesthetic nature of these drawings and recognizes them as works of art, worthy of study in their own right.

Organiser: Dr Crispin Branfoot and Dr Elizabeth Moore

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