By Alisha Sett
An artist and his exploration of Nepal
Frédéric Lecloux, a Belgian-French photographer, was drawn to Nepal in his 20s by the travel guides and books that spoke of the magic of the Himalaya, the cultures to be discovered, and the many lives to be lived on the roads between the peaks. With Cat Stevens’ Katmandu as his soundtrack, he photographed the mountains in all their glory, creating postcards that confirmed what he had seen in his dreams. As is the case with many travellers, in his first journeys in the 1990s, he was living more in the words and images he had seen of Nepal than with the world in front of him.
Lecloux found himself returning again and again to Nepal, during the civil war that killed many thousands, during reconstruction, during the failure of the successive governments to give the people what it had promised, during the famines, and most recently, during the earthquakes in April-May 2015. At first, he donned the image of the photojournalist working for NGOs and newspapers. But soon, he knew this was not his purpose. He was not there to document for posterity the historical landmarks that Nepal would be known by.
Lecloux was and is in Nepal because it is where he knows he wants to be, and perhaps because it is where he needs to be. It is this space of knowing, of letting go of the need to explain ‘why Nepal’, that has created ‘Everyday Epiphanies’. Photography, more than any other medium, has always carried a moral charge and found itself endlessly burdened with the question of “why”. In recent times, this weight and stream of endless justifications have produced not just banal visual stories, but a culture where the words explaining a body of work take precedence over the work itself.
Article published in Himal, Kathmandu, 10 November 2015 – Read the full article on Himal’s website
Alisha Sett is a writer based in Bombay. She graduated from Tufts University in 2012 with a BA in Political Science and English.