The second edition of Photo Kathmandu is here with an extravaganza of international imagery
Images of daily life in Kabul not seen in the news, Cambodia 40 years after the Khmer Rouge genocide, tracking down images of the Nepal conflict to find out what has become of the people in them, and pictures by world renowned photographers. All this and more at the two-week Photo Festival in Kathmandu.
The squares and alleys of Patan will once again be festooned with pictures, lit up with exhibitions and slide shows as it celebrates the second annual show with a unique international extravaganza of photography, 21 October - 3 November.
Utilising the historic town and its earthquake-damaged streets as its gallery space, walls and corners will once more be adorned with photographs from around the world.
“The visual medium is a lot more accessible than text.
Exhibitions like these become a great way to inspire people,” said NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati of photo.circle, the organiser of the festival. “Photography is not only an effective tool of documentation but also of expression, to share your own personal stories.”
There will be a dozen exhibitions in addition to slideshows, artist talks, workshops, portfolio reviews and panel discussions. The festival will host artists from around the world including countries like Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, Iran and Bangladesh.
“The curated work will speak to ideas of resilience of the human spirit, and how people overcome personal challenges, conflict or natural disasters,” explains Bhushan Shilpakar of photo.circle.
The festival coincides with the 20th anniversary of the start of the Nepal conflict and the 10th anniversary of its end. It is also happening a year after the earthquake followed by the Indian blockade.
“The idea is to bring the gallery close to the public and have images that are not only visually appealing, but stories that the public can relate to as well,” says Shilpakar.
The first edition of Photo Kathmandu last year won widespread acclaim for the unique way in which it used Patan’s earthquake-ravaged public space for exhibitions. This year, there will also be an emphasis on the need to preserve the cultural heritage of the Valley.
Behind the scenes
Photo Kathmandu will begin a week after Dasain and by the time it ends, will run up against the next festival, Tihar. Working tirelessly to make this happen are the twenty volunteers of Photo Kathmandu.
Madan Shrestha, 26, is a native of Mangal Bazar and was motivated to join the preparation team as part of his effort to help his community. Having upgraded from just a visitor last year, Shrestha will now help put up installations prior to the two week long exhibition.
“It is a great opportunity to learn and maybe in future apply the same skills,” says Shrestha who also runs his own event management company.
Annie Awale is also from Patan and is excited about having an international event happening in her neighbourhood. The college student sees this as an opportunity to interact with a wider audience and immerse herself in different cultures, traditions and practices. “We get to see and learn history from pictures, things we are not so familiar with right now,” Awale says.
Photo Kathmandu is involving young men and women like Madan and Annie so they gain experience in organising big events like these and also mobilise their communities. Says volunteer coordinator Suresh Maharjan: “The youth need to know that apart from famous personalities, every one else has a history.”
PHOTO KATHMANDU HIGHLIGHTS
Dalit: A Quest for Dignity (Nepal)
Photographs depicting various meanings of dignity for Nepal’s Dalit community. The exhibition bears testimony to social, economic and political history and the discrimination that Dalits have to deal with. However, it also shows the inner strength of the Dalit community and how they make use of their cultural heritage to form their own identity.
Broken Rules by Arantxa Cedillo (Spain)
The power of women in Nepal is the main focus of Broken Rules. All the women in Cedillo’s project represent change and share one characteristic: The first women to have broken certain rules in their native place. Taking inspiration from traditional portrait photography and reversing the trend, Cedillo gives each woman the liberty to represent herself in the picture as opposed to strictly posed, serious portraiture.
Close Distance by Jannatul Mawa (Bangladesh)
This exhibition highlights the neglected issue of domestic help. Mawa approaches urban, middle class housewives, and takes portraits of them together with their housemaids. Mawa not only wants to challenge the spatial and class taboo in urban middle class homes, but also hopes that her work will help the audience reflect on the need to change class relations within the home.
The Other Side of Annapurna by Shikhar Bhattarai (Nepal)
Bhattarai’s photographs of Marpha village is an attempt to understand people of and their relationship with the land. It examines life beyond just the tourist and trekking seasons. Many young people are leaving the village in search of work, leaving behind an emptiness. When trekking season is over, a sense of desolation hangs over this dramatic landscape.
The Vanishing: Altered Landscapes and Displaced Lives on the Yangtze River by Ian Teh (UK/Malaysia)
The Vanishing captures the gradual yet monumental transformation of the Three Gorges region into a reservoir that submerged an entire swath of central China displacing millions. This exhibition highlights the human dislocation of large infrastructure projects.
Visual thinking in the editorial process
A three day workshop led by National Geographic's Patrick Witty focusing on the various aspects and importance of photographs in the editorial process. Having worked as a photo editor for renowned publications like TIME, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, WIRED and so on, Witty comes with a huge experience in the field.
The past is the present - Part II
Naani Bhai Sthapit/ Nepal picture library
A five day workshop conducted by award-winning Indian documentary photographer and photography educator Pablo Bartholomew. The workshop focuses on finding, studying, analysing and building narratives from old family photographs.
A mixture of photography and multimedia with a focus on labour migration issues in Asia. Curated by human rights campaigner Robert Godden, the slideshow will feature works of different international and local artists. “I hope the slideshow will provide a small insight into this complex issue and contribute to a more balanced and tolerant debate on how we manage this phenomena,” said Godden.
I STILL HAVEN'T FOUND WHAT I'M LOOKING FOR
Munem Wasif will talk about his practice in the last ten years, which will focus on his struggles, ups and downs and transformations as an artist. He will also talk about self discovery and his association with photography.
Lars Willumeit/ Yann Mingard
Yann Mingard: Deposit
A presentation and conversation by Yann Mingard and curator Lars Willumeit, who collaborated on the documentary project Deposit, by Swiss photographer Yann Mingard. The documentary confronts us with urgent questions about the bio-political and bio-ethical debates of our times. It asks us to engage with complex issues involving the conservation, optimisation, digitisation, and storage of life forms.
A reviewer’s panel comprising of renowned photo professionals like Patrick Witty, Kevin WY Lee, Lars Willumeit, Kevin Bubriski, Hannamari Shakya and Rishi Singhal. Fee: Rs 565/ $ 10 for Non-Nepalis. Applications received online:
Staging the past, Tanvi Mishra
Taking art out in the open, Smriti Basnet