The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain
Exhibition integrates art with experiential digital design in debut of the Cleveland museum’s restored Cambodian sculptural masterpiece Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan
Cleveland (January 21, 2020) – Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain is the first exhibition dedicated to the art of one of the earliest major Hindu sites in Southeast Asia, established around 1,500 years ago during the country’s Pre-Angkorian period. Through a series of immersive digital experiences, the exhibition presents the Cleveland Museum of Art’s (CMA) monumental sandstone sculpture Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan in the context of the landscape and sacred space from which it came. The newly restored Cleveland Krishna is showcased with nine important related stone sculptures on loan from the National Museum of Cambodia and the Musée national des arts asiatiques-Guimet. The exhibition provides visitors with an entirely new and revelatory experience in which digital media supports the understanding and appreciation of exceptional works of Cambodian art. Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain is on view from October 18, 2020, to January 3, 2021, in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Exhibition Hall and is accompanied by a comprehensive catalogue.
“The opportunity to update and restore the Cleveland Krishna, which was long ago broken into many pieces found at different times, is yet another result of our Cultural Cooperation Agreement with the Kingdom of Cambodia,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “Collaboration with our Cambodian and French colleagues and advances in technology were essential for the successful new reconstruction. The exhibition shares the incredible story of how the discoveries and conservation efforts evolved since the late 1800s and presents what we have learned about Krishna’s place at the site itself.”
Originating in India, the myth of the superhuman child-god Krishna reached a high point between the
AD 400s and 600s. At the same time, people in Southeast Asia were beginning to adopt religious art, texts and ritual practices from India, reconceived for their own purposes. In the Mekong River delta of southern Cambodia, control of floodwaters meant economic success. The powerful image of Krishna holding up Mount Govardhan to shield his followers from destructive deluge held special relevance to the population of this region. In the exhibition, cinematic projections of 360-degree video with surround sound transport visitors to the canal ways of the Mekong delta to see how pilgrims journeyed by boat to the site where Krishna and his counterparts were worshiped.
Through collaborations with Microsoft and the Interactive Commons at Case Western Reserve University, Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain also features a guided mixed-reality audiovisual tour. Using Microsoft HoloLens 2 devices, visitors are shown the captivating history of Cleveland’s Krishna, from the ruins of an abandoned Cambodian cave temple to a glamorous Art Nouveau mansion in Brussels. The story continues with how the sculpture arrived in multiple pieces at the CMA, where conservators worked intensively for months in 1978 and again from 2018 to 2020 to restore and reconstruct the masterwork. A life-size holographic projection envisions how the completed Krishna sculpture would look with no missing pieces, viewed from both outside and within the cave that is believed to have been the sanctum where it was first established.
Using elegant 3-D projections, Revealing Krishna: Journey to Cambodia’s Sacred Mountain brings the Cleveland Krishna together with the seven other monumental sculptures depicting the gods of Stone Mountain, seen together for the first time at true-to-life scale. Details and multiple views of each sculpture captured through high-resolution photogrammetry and laser scans are activated by visitors who can then see up close the awe-inspiring skill of the unknown master artists of ancient southern Cambodia.
For more information about Krishna Lifting Mount Govardhan and its restoration, read the CMA Thinker blog post “Turning Back Time: Conserving CMA’s Krishna Sculpture.”
More information about Krishna and the Gods of Stone Mountain is forthcoming. To stay up to date on the exhibition, please contact Kelley Notaro Schreiber by phone at 216-707-6898 or by email at email@example.com.
The exhibition is organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts of the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
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