Sunday, April 30, 2017

THE LONDON COLLECTION

Ahhh Museums. Beautiful spaces to see the concrete of the abstract of someone’s else’s mind and sometimes vice versa.
Always liked the whole experience. Just the realization as you are stepping in and becoming aware that this is just not an ordinary place is wondrous. You know the space, the architecture and the design have been carefully planned to create a sacred venue that will enhance the experience.

Elevated aesthetics that open our ability to perceive.

But that’s not all. There is one more thing that circulates in my mind though. That is the social interaction between the space, the art, and the people.  The whole kaleidoscope of the participants it’s such a dynamic spectacle. You got the art lovers, the pretend art lovers, the just lovers, the cultural pedigree seekers, the self-introspect seekers, the artist, the artist on the making, the tourists (some that love the exhibits and some that they just got to make the “I’ve been here” stop), the children with their parents or teachers  that sometimes they are having fun, sometimes they are mesmerized and sometimes they just keep on asking how much more will they be there, and so forth.

Just Happy to be present and see.





"Who's looking at who"
Royal Academy of the Arts 




 "Playful Mist 1"
Tate Modern



"Playful Mist 2"
Tate Modern


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

THE MYTH OF TIBET


So here I was... In the epicenter of Himalayan Buddhism: Lhasa .
I arrived to Tibet with mixed feelings. In the  one hand I was very excited to see this religious and spiritual centre but at the same time I also had a notion that it was not going to be  a very “pure” visit.  Unfortunately the second hunch was the one that prevailed.
If you come to Lhasa expecting to find something REMOTELY close to what Brad Pitt saw in seven years in Tibet.... well boy (gal).....you are in for a very, very and VERY BIG disappointment. (Of course I used this example to exaggerate!! But.. it makes a point)
The first thing that you are aware is that you are in the CHINESE city of Lhasa. At the airport you pass through at least 5 uniformed people checking that all your papers are in order. From there on you are plainly put... in a city. And quite a big one. Many factories, many business’, many markets, and many people in a modern and continuously expanding city. It is divided in “Old city Lhasa” which is run down and where most Tibetans live, and there is also “Chinese Lhasa” were the large Chinese population works and lives in a more modern and dynamic environment.
When you go for example to Potala Palace (The ancient Buddhist headquarters for the region)  or some of the other temples and monasteries what immediately strikes you the most, is the ENORMOUS amount of Chinese tourists. This place looks more like fricking Disneyland! Lines and lines of them. There is simply no intimacy when you visit this magnificent places... It was sad and honestly disappointing. Not remotely close to what you would think or you would expect. Instead I spent a good amount of time walking the Tibetan part of town and that became much more interesting to me. 
In the end I try to see as much of the “Real Tibet”. My driver and guide took me to some small local Tibetan restaurants where I had pretty good food (Spicy!). Actually I ate Yak for the first time (at least the very first time I am aware)...very tasty.
In the last stretch I was  honestly happy to head back home.





PHOTOGRAPHS












Debating Monks 1

Debating Monks 2

Debating Monks 3








FROM HEAVEN TO MAYHEM

After a much spectacular aerial view of the Himalayas, I arrived to Katmandu. From the time the airplane is approaching the airport and you glimpse out the window you see a massive amount of run down houses, and then you quickly realize that this is one big city for a small country.  
I always had an unfounded curiosity for this place. Maybe just because the name sounded funny to me or maybe because I liked the unique shape of the  flag....who knows. One thing for sure is that immediately after you step out of the airport you know you are in for a trip!. The place is Über-crowded.
The streets are unbelievably packed with an avalanche of cars, motorcycles, bicycles,  human pulled trollies and all of them are going in all directions with no particular order and at the same time. ohh! ...and all of them are blowing their horns, or whatever thing they have to make noise in order to avoid crashing against each other.
One thing for sure is that Katmandu (like its name) is a funny place.  If you ask any foreigner about it, the common (and much polite and diplomatic) answer is: “Katmandu is.... busy” . Translation: it is bloody chaos!!! and this tends to be what makes it both disruptive and appealing.
If you manage to survive the traffic then you have to deal with the hustlers that try to hustle hustlers!! Everyone tries to sell you something, either a souvenir, a pashmina (quite popular), a flower necklace or even a photo pose!! Yes a damn photo pose!.. Just like in India the yogis (Holly men that have decided to renounce all material things and generally paint their faces and body) will gladly pose for you in exchange for some Nepali Rupees.... Well there goes the material renounce shit right?????!!!!
So tourists in order to bring that “exotic” shot gladly pay these guys so they can make funny poses and  come home with the magical “yogi pic”!! I really can’t stand that... I love people when they are willing to allow me to take a portrait but when its a matter of money...well ....at that point the picture for me got prostituted and simply impure  (yes..I do have a prude side!)....I rather walk away from that. 
I saw more temples, more markets, etc, etc oh! how can I forget:  funeral cremations in the river (pretty much like in India) . At that point the day started to become kinda of dark.... seeing how people clean the bodies in the river, while children swim next to them before they go for cremations was in simple terms, macabre. Also there were some crazy and quite aggressive monkeys that try to bite me when I was getting their photo..... After my lovely peaceful Bhutan trip this was not being fun.
Fortunately in my last stop we went to a much peaceful and very beautiful place that I did like with a really nice square and beautiful temples..some of them with pretty kinky Kama Sutra paintings....Some really perverted .....mmmmhhhh. maybe thats why I liked that place.. anyway.... there I saw some children that had a homemade kite and were  playing all afternoon with it.... The site of a beautiful square, with children really enjoying themselves with something as simple as an improvised kite (and not flying one on Nintendo Wii) really made my day and my trip to Nepal. I sat there for a while and took some shots.

That image just made me happy. 







Vicious Monkey
Professional Model..I wonder what is his day rate?
video


PHOTOGRAPHS


Himalayas view from the plane




















Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Last reflections on the land of the Druk



The sand clock has dropped the last grain and now its time for me to leave Bhutan. I take with me many fascinating memories of quite a unique and extraordinary place.  I am very glad to have come while the country still maintains the feeling and integrity of an under-exploited destination.

I came looking for something different and I believe I found it. Bhutan is in many senses a whole different world from the one that most  westerners know, and yet it makes you realize at the same time how similar we all are.
I will not forget the deeply peaceful feeling inside the temples with the unforgettable smell of ancient wood and burning incense while looking at the colorful pictorial and religious history. I was salivating like a Pavlovian dog to  take pictures there but it is simply not permitted since its considered disrespectful. 


I also enjoyed quite a  bit the interaction with young monks and nuns that although they are submerged in ancient traditions they are...well....just people...(of course) They like soccer, computers, cell phones and joking around...much more than what I imagined! 
I will encourage anyone  with an appetite for off the beaten track style of travel or simple world curiosity, to make a point to come here. It will not disappoint. 
Tashi Delek Bhutan.
S.
Penis are considered signs of fertility and fortune. They are regularly displayed in the entrances of homes.





PHOTOGRAPHS

Early morning fog


Two reds in one big green


Children asking to have their picture taken (except one)

Young Monk on old stairs
Playing in water while mom works


I found a liking for shooting electric posts in rice fields

Monday, September 27, 2010

Bhutan: Land of Dragon

Rice Fields on the Road as we leave Paro.

After a very  long  odyssey, I finally made it to Bhutan!. It took two days of travel followed by an 8 hour road trip to make it in time to the festival in the town of Bumthang.  The combined trip + jet-lag + high altitude + himalayan one lane hilly and very, very, very curvy road! was needless to say: Exhausting  (and not much appreciated by my stomach : ) ). Fortunately my  delicious breakfast of  aspirin , pepto and  dramamine did the trick.
So you may ask the question:  Why Bhutan?? Was this part of a spiritual quest to find enlightenment to my very earthly and very mundane existence???  Was this an effort to find the last Shangri-La?? Am I trying to mimic the monk who sold his Ferrari to make sense of the world? (and no...I do not have a Ferrari!).
The perhaps disappointing but truthful answer is: No. The trip to Bhutan represents  the chance to see a completely different way of life, a departure from my own relative realty and, quite simply, a chance on exploring yet another new place in our little Blue Planet (and to take lots of pictures!).
Bhutan is actually quite an extraordinary choice. A small country with about seven hundred thousand  people in population with a deeply rooted Buddhist tradition.  There are only about twenty thousand cars and only about thirty thousand people visit Bhutan each year. The king made a point on limiting mass tourism by imposing a minimum daily  fee  for foreigners to spend, thus maintaining a low impact on its country, tradition and culture. He has also made a point in focusing on “ Gross National Happiness”  as opposed to just focusing on Gross National product
Children on the road.  




About 70% of the country is covered with forests and the landscape is truly  exceptional. An expansive plethora of extraordinary imagery, colors and smells.  Its just beautiful and a photographers dream.
But so far the most  remarkable thing I have encountered, without a doubt, is the people. The Bhutanese are extremely warm, friendly, and humble. Their traditions are very rich and ample. They cherish and maintain them and its just pleasurable to see that despite the rapid changes that we are seeing in the world they have not lost their anchor point. 
There are actually many things to be learned from this Himalayan country and I am just happy to be here.
Best,
S.







Photographs




Bhutanese Monk studying in Wangdichholing.  This shot was taken while the monks were studying during the afternoon.  The light, the setting and their dedication were magical.
Wangdichholing. Study Room.

Portrait session in Bumthang Dzong





While taking the pictures one of my guides, Karma, took a picture of me.
Him and Tzering have been instrumental in making an incredible experience and I am very thankful to have them.
Young Monks Running in Punakha Temple




Double Rainbow Bumthang

Late afternoon landscape

Two young monks in Rice field.