Nepali Times Asian Paints
Arts
Chameleon spirit


JUANITA MALAGON


PICS: JUANITA MALAGON
SAY CHEESE: Maureen Bisilliat is not used to being in front of the camera. She feels more comfortable behind the lens.

Maureen Bisilliat didn't mind travelling nearly 30 hours non-stop from Sao Paulo to Kathmandu this week. She didn't mind that she had to attend a social event on the evening she arrived. She was happy to explore Bhaktapur the next day.

At 82, Bisilliat has the energy of a teenager and the curiosity of a child. Which must be why she is always doing something, somewhere around the world. This time she is in Nepal exhibiting her photographs as part of the Kathmandu International Art Festival that begins Sunday.

A trained painter, a professional photographer, a photojournalist, and a documentarist, Bisilliat was born in England, the daughter of an Argentinian diplomat and a British painter. She switches from English to Spanish to Portuguese with equal ease, but it is her pictures that communicate what she wants to say.

At 82, Bisilliat has the energy of a teenager and the curiosity of a child.
Bisilliat started as a photojournalist 50 years ago when she travelled extensively throughout Brazil, narrating the daily life of the indigenous people in the Amazon. "I had read and enjoyed the tales by Brazilian writers like Joao Guimaraes Rosas, Euclides da Cunha, and Jorge Amado, and something clicked and I wanted to go to the places they wrote about to tell those stories in pictures," she explains.

Her family's nomadic ways gave her a sense of not belonging anywhere, and made her like a chameleon, blending with the environment. But photography allowed Bisilliat to root her to one place, and that was Brazil.

COURTESY
One of the photos of the exhibition.
"I'm able to adapt easily, and to recognise when I need to be present or absent, seen or not seen," she says.

Taking pictures for her is like getting out of yourself to penetrate into others' worlds and spirits, forgetting your own self. She also explains that indirectly she identifies herself with the people she took pictures of, and that helps her find her roots and connection with the earth.

A selection of 14 photographs from Xingu in the Amazon is being exhibited at the festival, and Bisilliat says she was amazed while selecting the pictures about the similarities between Brazil and Nepal.

Exhibition in Siddhartha Art Gallery at Babar Mahal Revisited
25 November-21 December

www.artmandu.org



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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