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FOCUS Photography Festival
Bhutan Diaries features a selection from Serena Chopra’s extremely rich archive of human emotions observed while travelling through Bhutan, a country long isolated from the world and its machinations. Chopra’s photographs capture the unique landscape of this country with its surprising blend of the secular and the religious, myth and reality, the traditional with the modern, and the immense contrast between its smaller townships and faraway ancient villages.
During 12 years of repeated visits, Chopra not only travelled into the interiors and hidden valleys of Bhutan, but also lived as a guest in many villagers’ homes—providing her with an intimate experience of their way of life, and the beliefs that governed them. Accordingly, she notes that as she got to know the Bhutanese better, she began to “photograph them with a vision that came from a more subtle understanding of their truth.”
What lies at the truth of a people, a land and its customs, is as much memory as it is history—and Chopra sensitively photographs the intricacies of Bhutanese heritage and culture, their collective sense of legacy, tradition and the past. At the same, the here and now of her camera records Bhutan at a historical moment in time: as it stands at an extraordinary crossroads, negotiating its entry into the world and all that modernity and technology offers, while attempting to retain its cultural traditions, values and way of life.
Like history and memory, Chopra’s black and white photography marks the passing of time: both literal and metaphorical; capturing with almost traditional classicism, a land and moment so faraway, and yet so close.
Bhutan Echoes is a travelling exhibition, produced by Tasveer, as part of its eleventh season. The exhibition is on view until Wednesday, March 22 (one day before the festival closes).
Ground Floor, Hamilton House, 8 J. N. Heredia Marg, Ballard Estate
022 6114 6464
Open Monday to Friday, 10.30am – 6.30pm; Saturday and Sunday, closed, except Saturday, 11 March
Until Wednesday, March 22