Saturday, June 26, 2010

Changjiji GOODNESS!

we visited the site for Neighborhood Watch today. we've decided that we will be using the projections in the exhibition to blanket the buildings in digitalized rice paddy fields. below the projections, on the metal suddered doors, we will have a seperate set of projections that will stream interviews with the oldest generations of Bhutan, alternating with interviews with the youngest generations of Bhutan. These projections will only show mouths speaking. It is our hope that we'll be able to gather enough projectors to have at least 9 voice installations running at once. the stories they will share will blend into one voice...made of the voices of Bhutan that are falling farther and farther away from eachother as progress threatens "the great divide"'s growth.this particular projection will open and close the exhibition.

today, in the gleaming himalayan sun, tenzin dorji shared his memories of what Changjiji used to be. "This land was all the most beautiful paddy fields in Thimphu. It was green. When i was young we would drive on the road above and look down at the paddy fields. I lived just across the expressway, and when i would look there was nothing here except the old homes that you can see [behind and amidst] the new buildings." later on, as we are walking toward the expressway to get a cab back to town he says quietly, "i suppose cities always change..."

it is tenzin's memories of Changjiji that have sparked our desire to show Changjiji as it once was, using projection. Bhutan has changed drastically...those changes have been most drastic in Bhutan's capitol city...and, as Bhutan approaches development carefully, as I talk more with the artists who will participate in this exhibition I realize more and more that the Bhutanese truly hope to 'develop' respectfully and with dedication to the Bhutan that once was. Their land and values are indeed a part of them...and when I hear people reflect on the changes that have swept into Bhutan I can't help but feel frustrated and truly touched. Does anyone else speak of their land so beautifully and honestly? Is there any place left in the the world that is EVEN ATTEMPTING to approach modernization the way Bhutan is?

Tensin remarked, "when the buildings are built they don't actually think about it. they just build. there is no green left in changjiji...and these buildings have not even been planned for."

along with the tremendous visual presence this housing complex has, Changjiji is also Thimphu's most fragile neighborhood. It has fallen victim to the effects of rapid modernization...poverty, gang violence, drugs, general "youth problems"...all these issues, which didn't used to exist in Bhutan...are festering in Changjiji. With the help of the Royal Bhutan Police, a new law enforcement outpost has been built in Changjiji. the crime rate has fallen according to young children who Tshering Dorji talked with while we visited the site. however, "the gangs still fight on the other side of the housing complex, opposite the police outpost". theft and burglary are still a problem and the children of Changjiji are often found skipping school or performing poorly. unhealthy domestic situations are still present and presence of gangs (and their influence) is still an issue. along with work that will reflect physical change and the passage of time in this kingdom, work will also reflect the social changes that have occurred...

i share some photos of the sight with you all.

as always...there is more to come!

i send my most excited greetings from the beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan!

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