THE LANGTANG MEMORY Photos Speaking

Badly devastated by the great earthquake of 2015, Langtang valley is gradually seeing a revival

Nov. 3, 2018, 9:43 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL 12 No.07, November 22, 2018 (Kartik. 16, 2075) Online Register Number: DOI 584/074-75

Putting the pain of devastation of earthquake behind, with a gradual process of recovery with support from foreign lovers of culture, ethnicity and nature, Langtang Valley is returning to normalcy.

A photo exhibition, organized by a group of foreign students jointly with local community, is currently going on at Chhaya Center, Atrium, Thamel Langtang Memory Project, “Sempa Tserah, and Kipu Sho”: Memory and Post-Disaster Recovery in the Langtang Valley has attracted many people to see the heart touching story in photography.

Curated by Austin Lord, Jennifer Bradley, Tsering Lama, Norcho Lama, Gyalpo Lama and Prasiit Sthapit ‘Sempa tserah, the photo exhibition of Memory of Langtang” has moved many visitors.

There is a reason for this. Completely devastated by earthquake in 2015, killing hundreds of people, including foreigners, the revival of Lantang Valley has been dramatic as it has already returned to normalcy with arrival of tourists and trekkers to see the beautiful mountains.

Although he has been doing his study in Nepal, Austin Lord, an American student of Yale University, has a great attachment to Langtang. He has shown this by organizing the photo exhibition under Langtang Memory Project.

According to the organizer, the Memory and Post-Disaster Recovery in the Langtang Valley is a part of the international photography festival, Photo Kathmandu.

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“This exhibition builds on our ongoing work with the Langtang community to build a ‘living archive’ in the wake of the 2015 disaster - we have now spent more than two years working on The Langtang Memory Project. In this show, we share hundreds of photographs from the archive, a range of new video materials we have created over the past few months, maps, and a sneak peek at our in-progress documentary film project, focused on the Drukpa Tse Shi festival that happened this past July called “A Time for Singing Again,” writes Austin Lord on his Facebook wall.

An excerpt from the exhibition overview: “In what ways can disaster change the way a community thinks about its past, present, and future? How do people use and relate to photographs in the wake of tragedy, as they try to respond to disorientation, loss, and absence? In what ways are new futures woven using threads of the past?”

“It’s a beautifully designed show... the outcome of a collaborative curatorial process and the work of dozens of different contributors and image makers over the last fifty years. Many thanks to my amazing co-curators for making this all happen: Jennifer Bradley, Tsering Lama, Norcho Lama, Gyal Po, and Prasiit Sthapit,” writes Austin.

On a personal level, this is the most exciting and meaningful project I have ever worked on... and it’s a dream come true to see our work featured at PhotoKTM this year. The exhibition will be there till November 16th.

On April 25, 2015, an earthquake ravaged Nepal and triggered a massive avalanche that devastated the Langtang Valley. This collaborative photo exhibition explores the visual history of the Langtang Valley of Nepal, drawing from the “living archive” of the Langtang Memory Project. Here we highlight the voices of Langtangpa women, who retell their own stories about Langtang, while reflecting on the aftermath of disaster, questions of cultural heritage, and ongoing processes of social change.

“When we look at the old photos, we feel like these people are still with us. When we look at the old videos, when they are singing and dancing, it feels like they are still alive. But after the video is finished, we look around and we don’t see these people. It’s sempa tserah” –Yangjen Tamang

As the Langtangpa continue working to rebuild their lives, our exhibition focuses on the ongoing struggle to balance two different feelings: a longing to move out from the shadow of the tragedies that shape us and the hopeful sense that we might find ways to invite happiness back into our lives.

This exhibition focuses on the ways the people of Langtang interact with photographs and the way that memory helps shape new stories of recovery and rejuvenation.

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