New Conversations around Old Photographs

New Conversations around Old Photographs

© Kedar Nani Rajkarnikar Collection / Nepal Picture Library.
In this project, BIND collaborates with photo.circle to explore the relationship between memories of the locals and the city of Kathmandu.

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.

© Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha Collection / Nepal Picture Library.
“This is the area nearest to my house, Vasantpur and I have been visiting this area since I was a kid, I have seen it change and I liked walking around the small alleys.
 
The area has changed, now there are tourists, people from different parts of Nepal, its more crowded now. The landscape has changed, old houses are gone, new concrete buildings have come up. I miss walking in the dark alleys and I miss going there with my friends. Some alleys are not there anymore because the new concrete buildings have come up.”

© Mukunda Bahadur Shrestha Collection / Nepal Picture Library.

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.

© Kedar Nani Rajkarnikar Collection / Nepal Picture Library.
“I always have a dream to take a photo near the bank of a river but I have never taken a photo near the river. I have never sat by the bank of a river. I rarely went out of the city as a child, to be in nature.
I have no memory… I have no experience of being near a river but I would like to make some images… and may be do river rafting.
There is a river near Birgunj but its very polluted now.”

© Kedar Nani Rajkarnikar Collection / 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 Dhakwa Collection / Nepal Picture Library.
“My mother was eleven or twelve years old. I love the fact that [she and the photographer] were neighbors … it was taken from his rooftop to her rooftop. In Patan before you could go to one place to the other from the rooftop.
She looks exactly like me … I look like her… we are like twins.
The photo that was sent to my father before they got married, she was around twenty-one. He has fringes, she was very stylish.
You get to stand in front of the picture and then you are a part of it ”

© Juju Bhai Dhakwa Collection / Nepal Picture Library.

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.

© Amrit Bahadur Chitrakar Collection / Nepal Picture Library.
“I love this place, this is like my identity. Since I was a kid, the place has changed drastically. Some festivals or rituals that used to take place in the square don’t happen anymore. On birthdays of family members, I would come to feed the pigeons corn”

© Amrit Bahadur Chitrakar Collection / Nepal Picture Library.

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.

© Juju Bhai Dhakhwa Collection / Nepal Picture Library.
“This picture, it looks very peaceful. I had gone to Lumbini as a Bhikshu. I was in Lumbini for a week and the experience was very good. I like the gardens in Lumbini. I like the natural environment of the place, the trees. It’s a very peaceful experience it makes me happy the open place.
Lalitpur is so crowded.
Lumbin is the birth Place of Gautam Buddha I feel happy to be there.
Eight hundred houses were destroyed in Lalitpur, I had two houses of mud and both were destroyed. I am living in the camp.
I don’t want to remember those moments.”

© Juju Bhai Dhakhwa Collection / Nepal Picture Library.

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.

In this project, BIND collaborates with photo.circle to explore the relationship between memories of the locals and the city of Kathmandu.

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