November 2015 could be remembered as a month in which photography took hold of the community in India and Nepal. As the Delhi Photo Festival’s engaging series of exhibitions and talks started to simmer down, many participants were already flying to Nepal, curious to discover the first edition of Photokathmandu. BIND was part of both initiatives, and was given the unique opportunity to inhabit a small room of the Patan Museum in Kathmandu, one of the original royal palaces which currently houses several sacred arts objects and traditional crafts. Here, we decided to engage with an array of old photographs collated and archived by the Nepal Picture Library, a public, virtual resource developed over the last five years by a dedicated team of practitioners.
BIND’s intervention was manifested in the form of an unconventional photo studio where selected archival photographs were projected as backdrops. We presented a pre-selected collection of images and suggested the visitors to make a personal selection against which a portrait could be taken. The images were truly varied: an aerial shot of Kathmandu, the rooftop of an old house, Patan Durbar Square, Birgunj Ghantaghar (Clock Tower), a rural landscape, a monastery with monks, a tree at Lumbini, a boat on the Bagmati river, and many other vistas, events and situations.
We subsequently asked them a series of biographical and interpretive questions: Why did you choose this image? What does this image remind you of? Does this image revive a personal memory?
In this project, BIND collaborates with photo.circle to explore the relationship between memories of the locals and the city of Kathmandu. While Nepal Picture Library strives to document an inclusive history of the Nepali people by encouraging individuals and families to contribute their photographs and stories to the archive, BIND intends to add a layer of reverie and fantasy to these stories by asking strangers to respond to the images and to start a conversation with them.
The image is taken from Dharahara also known as Bhimsen Tower, which was destroyed by the April Earthquake. The photograph shows the Kathmandu Durbar Square and surrounding. We don’t have the exact date of the photographs but we believe the image was taken in the 70s. Source: Nepal Picture Library.
The image was taken in mid-1960s at Bherang river on the way from Birgunj to Bindabasini temple in Parsa district of Nepal during a family trip.
Juju Bhai took the photo from his home in Patan. We don’t have the dates but most of Juju’s photos in the archive are from 60’s and the 70’s.
The photograph is of Patan Durbar Square facing South. The two patis of Mangahiti on the left of the photograph were brought down by the April Earthquake. The photograph was taken in the 90’s.
Maya Devi Temple is an ancient Buddhist temple situated at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lumbini, Nepal. It is the main temple at Lumbini, a site traditionally considered the birthplace of Gautama Buddha. The temple stands adjacent to a sacred pool (known as Puskarni) and a sacred garden. The archaeological remains at the site were previously dated to the third-century BCE brick buildings constructed by Ashoka. Source: Wikipedia.