Narthang Monastery, near Shigatse
This time when the guidebooks said that the monastery was mostly in ruins, they were correct. Narthang had the spooky feeling of being almost entirely deserted, and the approaching thunderstorm and darkening sky didn’t help that feeling at all.
Narthang was once known for two things: it’s huge chorten, similar to the one that still stands in Gyantse, and it’s collection of wood blocks for printing the Tibetan Buddhist canon, thangka, and Jakata tales (the stories of the Buddha’s previous lives). Unfortunately Narthang was hit hard by the cultural revolution and now all that’s left of the chorten is rubble, and only a fraction of the original wood blocks still exist.
The monastery grounds are large, and just walking around the ruins gives a sense of how grand the complex once was. I always find visiting these places to be a depressing reminder of what the country has been through. It’s unlikely that small monasteries such as this will be able to rebuild in the near future because of a lack of funding.
thru Aug 3:
“Alibis: Sigmar Polke 1963–2010”
The Museum of Modern Art, 11 West 53 St., NYC
Sigmar Polke (German, 1941–2010) was one of the most voraciously experimental artists of the twentieth century. This retrospective is the first to encompass the unusually broad range of mediums he worked with during his five-decade career, including painting, photography, film, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, television, performance, and stained glass, as well as his constant, highly innovative blurring of the boundaries between these mediums. Masquerading as many different artists—making cunning figurative paintings at one moment and abstract photographs the next—he always eluded easy categorization.
Ask any young Nepali who aspires to work in the Gulf and you’ll hear a variation of responses, all of them pointing to the same problem—there are no jobs in Nepal. So the fastest way to earn more money than anyone could imagine making at home is to become a migrant worker overseas.
Read more in Pulitzer Center grantee Anup Kaphle’s project: “Nepali Lives, Foreign Dreams”
A worker burns electrical wires in order to extract the copper inside. The process is carried out in the open air in central Kolkata, resulting in highly toxic emissions being released into the surrounding air and soil. Workers have little to no protection. I’m in India this month documenting how the country is battling many forms of pollution.
Image by Sean Gallagher, via Instagram. India, 2013.
Gallagher’s 2013 Pulitzer Center sponsored project looks at the toll of dis-assembly for electronic goods.
At the end of the road up the Dode Valley, north of Lhasa city, sits a rusty old dam that’s no longer used. Tibet’s water sources have been drying up over the last few decades: the river that would have once flowed through here has been reduced to a mere trickle.
The drying up of Tibet’s rivers has serious implications for the rest of Asia considering that some of the continent’s greatest rivers originate on the plateau: the Brahmaputra, the Mekong, the Indus, the Yangtze, the Sutlej, and the Yellow River.