Prasiit Sthapit Kathmandu, Nepal
Prasiit Sthapit (1988) is a Kathmandu-based visual storyteller whose work deals with societies at the borderline, both literally and figuratively. Through photography, he chooses to show the experiences he has shared with the people in his pictures, and what they mean to him.
He graduated from Manipal Institute of Communication, India with a Bachelors in Arts (Journalism and Communication) and was the recipient of the Dr. TMA Pai Gold Medal for Best Outgoing Student, 2010. He is associated with photo.circle, an organization working towards building a strong community of visual storytellers in Nepal, and Fuzz Factory Productions, a multimedia collective.
Laatikkomo’s interview with Prasiit Sthapit May 27th, 2013
Where are you from? What cities, and/or countries have you lived in – or what places have influenced you?
PS: I was born and lived most of my life in Kathmandu, Nepal. This place has been my muse ever since I started photography and even before that. The thing that fascinates me most about this city is its alleys and rusted streets, it feels like a time capsule, transporting me back to a civilisation long long ago. There are few old houses there but most of them are new ugly cement blocks but it has that air, that damp old air. Fresh and nostalgic.
I also lived in Manipal, Karnataka, India for three years for my graduation. A small university town where everyone knows everyone.
What is your earliest memory of photography?
PS: I cannot pin point a particular memory related to photography most probably because it was filled with many such memories. My father is a framer, he owns a photo frame shop in the heart of Kathmandu and when I was little I used to spend a bulk of my free time there. Looking at pictures, mostly family photographs and wondering who these people were and if they would mind if I accidently put a thumb print in the photographs.
Many of your photographs emit a feeling of heat and/or blinding light, what draws you to the color white?
PS: That’s very hard to explain but White, for me is existence. You cannot see what exists in it but it’s not a void, like black is. You know that something is there but there is no way to explain what exists. With an over exposed white, most of the time, the horizon is cut off and there is no end to it, emitting a feeling of continuation. I like when things are never ending, it exists in one form or the other. It is also the reason why I work mostly on long term projects.
There is a certain mystery about your images, they seem like suspended moments in time. What are your thoughts on preservation, of time, objects, or life?
PS: I have always maintained that photographs need a sense of mystery in them. A certain something that cannot be grasped in the first glance. That I believe is the only way a photographer can hold the audience even if it is for just a second more because the world is being bombarded by images and the premium for photography is decreasing. Without that extra something which can grab an audience for a little bit more, we might as well be just another pamphlet on the street wall.
Apart from being a photographer, I’m also a collector. Not a collector in a general sense but I collect little things, like family photos, discarded photographs, a chocolate wrapper, a disposed muffler, stones, little boxes, posters. I use these in my projects. I believe these objects that have once been used by the people in my photographs or that is a part of the place I’m photographing, brings out the life of the place. These physical objects ooze a sense of that place or person. Photographs are a two dimensional representation (that is also its charm) but objects are what exists what makes up the place. Objects are as much a device of emotions as memories are.
What is your story related to the figures or place presented in this photograph?
PS: This photograph is part of a series I have been working on for the past two years. The story is about village named Susta in the border between Nepal and India. What is so special about this place is that it is in limbo. The river, Narayani (pictured here) is the border between the two countries and Susta was once perched firmly on the west bank of the Narayani River. But with the river changing course due to climate change, and cutting persistently into Nepali territory, the village today finds itself on the east of the Narayani. India maintains the new course of the river as the boundary while Nepal disagrees, making Susta a contested portion of Nepal within India, surrounded on three sides by India, and on the fourth by the Narayani. It is estimated that 14,860 hectares have come under Indian encroachment thus far. That is not the end of problems here. The Himalayan Times on 30th June 2011 reported that the Narayani had breached 135 hectares of farmland during the monsoon in Susta. This has been occurring at an accelerated rate for almost a decade now. Locals say that if nothing is done to contain the river, in a few decades the whole place will disappear.
Could you list 5(or more) words you were thinking about when you captured this image (or series)?
PS: For this series, the words would be:
Nature (force of)
Part of the Laatikkomo project asks the artists to choose the next photographer in their link of photographers. What qualities are you looking for in the artist you will choose, what criteria will guide your choice?
PS: I repersent a part of the world that has been under repersented in the photography circuit. The major criteria would be a photographer that can repersent the sub-continent the best possible. I will look for a photographer whose content and style is very much influeneced by what is around us. It is high time the talent from this part of the world be recognised.
Thank you so much Prasiit, we look forward to seeing more exiting Asian photography!