Admist the Garden of Eden lies empty elysian fields, still spaces, and the silence that echoes in them. Located in the southern outskirt of the Kathmandu Valley are Khokana and Bungamati, twin villages encompassing an archeological site, Ku Dey, out to the very edge of the foothills of the valley. But as the fog rises from the landscape, one begins to see that though the sacred lands inherent beauty, they are tempered with modern signs of intervention and degradation.
It is believed by the locals that their land was blessed by goddess Shikali Devi to begin a new settlement.
Decades later, the land has been proposed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, waiting for restoration and preservation.
But lately it serves as a ground for a socio-political battle, as the land poses to be under threat by the State initiated Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway, a 78-kilometre “fast track” road conceived to bring tourists from an un-built airport in Tarai to the capital in just 90 minutes, a velocity whose casualty would be the displacement of the settlements that remain dotted across the sacred land.
After Eden is a body of work which attempts to mediate between the evocative past and the elusive present informed in response to the changing landscapes on the notion of development. The tainted terrains are a constant reminder of how the notion of progress trumps people, continually erasing and overwriting the land and memory.
“I chose to photograph the land, and what it had to say,” Chandervanshi explains. “It was the land that the people were fighting for. It was the land which was going under all this turmoil. And it was because of the land they worshipped that [the people] wanted to stand for it.” The landscapes as depicted by Chandervanshi are as beautiful as they are balefully portentous, warning – as the photographer does – “you will not be able to get this back.”
- exert from an interview for British Journal of Photography
SWIPE TO VIEW THE GALLERY
Through the series of physical traces rupturing the organic terrain are questions raised upon the need for this emerging fast track as it slices through these vast scapes.