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Kevin BubriskiI first traveled to Nepal in 1975 as a Peace Corps volunteer to work in remote mountain villages as a public drinking water engineer and overseer. Two of these years I worked in the far northwestern Karnali Zone in villages at that time up to twenty days walk from the nearest motor able road and were the marginal agricultural conditions led to perennial food deficits, widespread hunger and infant mortality rates over 50%. After three years of Peace Corps service I stayed on for a fourth year through 1979 as a freelance water systems engineer working for the Nepal National Parks office and using all my free time to explore the remote mountain regions of the country I had yet to visit.
In 1984 I returned to Nepal after four years of photographic apprenticeship and photojournalism work in New Mexico and New York. My hope was to return to the northwestern Karnali region of Nepal with a view camera, tripod and sheet film to document the dire conditions I witnessed as a Peace Corps volunteer. From 1984 through 1987 I made numerous trips of several months each on foot throughout the middle hills and high mountain regions of Nepal. In 1985 I made a four month visit back to the villages of the Karnali region.
1988 through 1990 with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fulbright foundation I used medium format cameras to capture the ritual life that had escaped the careful scrutiny of the cumbersome view camera. Also of particular interest for my view camera was the sacred art and architecture of the Kathmandu Valley. Through the 1990’s I made a number of brief trips back to Nepal as guide and instructor for photographic workshop groups and sometimes for brief stopovers on my way in and out of Tibet.
After eight years away I returned to Nepal in 2005 to find it entirely familiar and changed. The political rumblings that have always been a common part of Nepali life had raged into a civil war between the royal army and the Maoist insurgency. My flight into Kathmandu in early February 2005 was canceled along with all other flights in or out of the country due to the King’s declaration of Emergency. A week later I arrived in Kathmandu a city of curfews, sand bag bunkers, and coils of concertina wire encircling all government, police and army installations. Tourism had faded, the economy was slumped and an air of nervousness enveloped the country. My latest visit back to Nepal was in late 2005 during the Maoist declared Ceasefire.
Kevin Bubriski - September 2007