14-20 August 2015 #771

Remembering the future

photo.circle launched a fundraising sale of archival photographs to help the reconstruction of historical houses and patis of Patan
Stéphane Huët

Photo: Purna Bahadur Shrestha

In 2007, when Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati and Bhushan Shilpakar founded photo.circle with the aim of creating a platform for creative photography in Nepal they hadn’t really thought it would grow into an ambitious attempt to digitally preserve archival images of Nepal.

Photo.circle’s many workshops and exhibitions over the years created a group of world class professional photographers, improved their technique and marketed their work.

Three years after it was set up, the digital archives of Nepal Picture Library already has 50,000 photos provided by individuals from their family albums. The collection enables the exploration issues of memory, identity and history through private family images of Nepal’s past.

In November, photo.circle is organising Nepal’s first international photo festival, Photo Kathmandu, a project Gurung Kakshapati and Shilpakar have been planning for over three years. 

Photo: Bikas Rauniar

“Our idea is to give the Nepali photography international exposure, and showcase some of the best work from abroad,” says Shilpakar who is Director of Operations of the festival which will be held from 3-9 November in venues throughout Patan. It will  feature print and digital exhibitions as well as workshops conducted by renowned international photographers.

In the runup to the festival, photo.circle is organising a print sale of 36 archival photographs to raise money for the reconstruction of some of the historical houses and rest-places that came down in Patan during the earthquake. The 36 pictures on sale are available in a limited edition of 100 per photograph and can be ordered on support.photoktm.com

Photo: David Carlson

Photo: Jay Cross

Photo: Larry Daloz

For this sale, photo.circle took 15 pictures from its Nepal Picture Library archive and 21 from the Peace Corps Nepal Photo History Project which has been archiving pictures taken by American volunteers since 1962.

“Since Photo Kathmandu will be anchored in Patan, we wanted to find a way to give back to our host city,” explains Gurung Kakshapati who is busy planning the programs at the festival. “It is kind of like we are seeking support from the past to rebuild for the future.”

Photo: Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha

Photo.circle is collaborating with Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust (KVPT), an independent organisation working to safeguard the historic architecture of the Valley to select the historical houses and patis to be rebuilt.

“There is support from big donors to rebuild temples and heritage sites,” says Shilpakar, “but patis which are such important places in the social life of Kathmandu haven’t got much attention.” 

Since the world has seen many images of destruction from Nepal after the 25 April earthquake, photo.circle wants this sale to show more positive images of the country. Says Gurung Kakshapati:  “It’s to tell people Nepal is still strong and beautiful.”



Read also:

Bhaktapur is waiting for you, Peregrine Frissell

Murals of hope, Stéphane Huët

Laughing it off, Stéphane Huët

New found empathy, Tsering Dolker Gurung

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