By the time I reached Patan Museum at around 1 pm to check out the photo studio set up by the BIND Collective, in collaboration with the Nepal Picture Library (NPL), there was already a group of friends waiting their turn to be photographed. Sitting on the stone falcha of the Keshav Narayan Mandir, they were preparing themselves, discussing their pose and props for the picture. Inside the small studio, in the audio video room of the museum, the BIND team was asking one of the guests to select a photo from NPL’s collection to use as a background.
According to Asmita Parelkar from the BIND Collective, the idea behind the studio was to use images from the NPL archive to see how people talk about the memories provoked by those images. NPL has been documenting an inclusive history of the Nepali people by encouraging individuals and families to contribute their photographs and stories. At the same time, BIND intends to add a layer of reverie and fantasy to these stories by asking strangers to respond to the images and start a conversation with them. Utilizing the old photographs devoid of their context, BIND aims to uncover stories that have been lost, memories that haven’t been revisited and dreams that have faded.
The team from BIND wants to see how people react to the images, mixing old and new Kathmandu. Most of the people who had their picture taken on the first day were guests who’d come to visit Photo Kathmandu, but there were also a few locals who came to share their stories with the team. Asmita recalls two young local boys from Lalitpur who were living in temporary shelters, who found it hard to talk about the images and memories. On the other hand, Sanjana Shrestha walked into the studio and instantly selected a photo of a young girl on a rooftop taken by Juju Bhai Dhakhwa. The young girl was her mother, who was one of Dhakwa’s neighbors. She shared that she’d never seen a photo of her mother before her parents’ marriage. Sanjana’s mother was soon invited by neighbors at Nagbahal to see that photo of hers.
Inspired by these stories, the BIND team is looking forward to involve more locals from Patan for the studio on November 9, the last day of the festival.
Text by Shuvechchhya Pradhan