She Who Dreams of Statues
SHE WHO DREAMS OF STATUES is a hybrid documentary inspired by the director’s experiences as a woman archaeologist. Recounting her excavation of a 12th Century statue in 2017, Natalie Khoo returns to Siem Reap to trace the footsteps of a missing Singaporean archaeologist, finding herself unexpectedly drawn to Khmer wisdom.
The film’s narrative and visual space exists primarily in Siem Reap. Today, the ancient capital of the Angkor Empire is crowded with throngs of tourists and archaeologists who work in these ruins—the word 'ruin' itself romanticising these sites, interpreting the landscape with their own ideas of the past.
Along the way, a host of eclectic characters are introduced—historians, tour guides, spiritual healers and the women who dream of statues even before their excavation. Each know only a piece of the puzzle, forming a multi-layered narrative where dreams, spirituality, history and mythology come together. While Archaeology and its Western-centric practices record and map objects in a chronological timeline, the alternate ontology of these women and their dreams point to a lived experience where time is non-linear.
Interrogating the politics of narrative construction, the film poetically presents a tapestry of voices in Cambodia and Singapore. Intercut with footage of an actual excavation Khoo undertook, the story is told through interviews and images from multiple sources - taken from Skype calls, journal entries and photo archives. Myth and memory, past and present, fiction and dream become entangled as space is ceded to women and their personal Her-stories.