Untitled Project on Tibetan Community in Exile in Dharamsala, India, 2011-present
In 1949, communist China launched a military invasion of neighbouring Tibet. Villages were destroyed, documents were forged and dissidents were executed all in order to eradicate Tibetans as a unique people. Following a brutally suppressed revolution in 1959, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sought refuge in India, where he eventually settled in Dharamsala. Today, Tibet is still not free and refugees still flee to a town lovingly referred to as Little Lhasa. Some of the people here have seen Tibet before 1949, while some have only seen an occupied Tibet. Others, still, have never consciously known Tibet, as they were born in exile. What connects them is their bloodline. This Project aims to shed light on these people and to explore what it means to be a people without a land. This Project aims to discover what it really means to be Tibetan.
Objectives of Project
1. To document;
It is the aim of this Project to document where Tibetans, as a people, have come from and where they are going. Many of the Tibetans who saw a pre-China Tibet, a free Tibet, are elderly. It is a crucial time to document the first-hand historical record of this group. This Project aims to document these people and their views concretely and completely so that future generations may be made aware of these accounts. This Project also aims to document the views of the younger generations of Tibetans, those who have grown up in exile, those have never consciously known Tibet; and to understand and reflect their own views on identity and citizenship.
2. To stake out a sense of identity;
This Project aims to preserve the Tibetan culture and concertize a sense of the Tibetan people’s cultural identity as Tibetans and as non-citizens. It is the goal of this Project to concretize the views of these people and to state conclusively and completely their sense of cultural and personal identity.
3. To create awareness;
This Project aims to increase global awareness of the Tibetan cause, and the Tibetan cultural identity. Through portraits and personal stories, this Project aims to personalize the Tibetan cause and to keep Tibet globally relevant.
4. To raise money;
This Project aims to generate funds for charitable work done in Tibet and in Tibetan exile communities abroad. A book of photography from this Project will be sold with half of the proceeds going back to the Tibetan community through the Canadian registered charity Ottawa Friends of Tibet (www.oft.ca), which works in conjunction with the Tibetan community, the Tibetan community in exile, as well as the Dalai Lama on various charitable projects and endeavours.
5. To develop a clear personal and visual identity;
Personally, as a Tibetan myself, it is my aim, through this Project, to clearly comprehend what it means to be a Tibetan. Professionally, as my first major body of work in photography, I aim to develop, through this Project, a recognizable and unique visual identity as an artist. To me, this Project is a means of cultural exploration, as well as self exploration.
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