Published: December 20th 2011December 20th 2011
I started a Kickstarter campaign to present some previously unpublished photos from this trip. I hope you'll help support the project by contributing or passing on the info. Thanks!
Be sure to go to the link and watch the short video.
Contributing to this Kickstarter campaign will allow me to print and frame a series of photos that I shot in Bhutan and Ladakh in 2007-08. I will seek out gallery space to present this exhibition and host an opening. I want to present them to the public as a gallery opening because gallery exhibitions are a way to create a focused space. The public can meet at a destination to explore what these photos mean in a new context. In essence, I want to bring people together in similar interests to learn from each other and this new situation - very similar to how I experienced my journey into the Himalaya. I hope you will continue this journey with me.
When I traveled to Himalayan communities in Bhutan and Ladakh in 2007-08, I worked on building a multi-media narrative impression of unique cultures within the global economic political structure. This economic structure offered new challenges to traditional cultural values throughout the world. Through volunteerism with indigenous NGOs working on issues of development and sustainability, I became familiar with Buddhist and indigenous belief systems that are rooted and evolved in the Himalaya. Additionally, I saw how they interface with modern global ideas such as neo-liberalism, neo-conservatism, individualism, global trade, global tourism, freedom, democracy, human rights, gender equity, and class consciousness. I formulated insights into how traditional beliefs and modern ideologies inform each other and the strategies these communities use for survival, not only in the harsh climates of the Himalaya, but also in the harsh climate of competitive global markets.
Further, I explored a more intimate view of these communities by observing and participating in the daily experiences of the people I met and worked with. I found that one of the best ways to explore the dynamic interaction between culture and communities was working with people from various social backgrounds in their communities. My opportunities as a volunteer with indigenous NGOs united me with people whose compassion leads them to use their position in their society to help others. This also allowed me the opportunity to have meaningful social interaction with people who have less access to social, political, and material resources than others.
The photos I wish to present as a unified gallery exhibition were carefully selected for their personal impact on my understanding of where I was then and where I am now. When I look into these eyes and landscapes I see compassion rooted in a strong sense of current conditions. I see places and people methodical in their development, yet curious and open to change and transformation. Some of these people were in need of resources to help them survive in a landscape that is both beautiful and difficult. Though they were rich in tradition and landscape, modern standards and measures rate them as some of the poorest in the world. I do not wish to romanticize these lives, rather I want to draw attention to the current conditions of people in these Himalayan enclaves. They were situated between maintaining thousands of years of wisdom conserved in cultural traditions and the pressures of neo-liberalism that entice these communities to open as markets in a complex system.