Associate Professor of Anthropology Bruce Owens’s photographs of Nepal’s annual Rato Matsyendranath festival—of which he has thousands, taken over nearly 40 years—were featured in fall 2016 in three exhibits in that country.
Owens’s images were on display from October 21 through November 3 during Photo Kathmandu, an international photography festival, held in Kathmandu, Nepal. As part of the photo festival, the images were displayed at two temples in Kathmandu that honor Matsyendranāth, a god of rain who is worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists and who is celebrated with the annual festival.
A third exhibition was held at the Patan Museum in Patan, Nepal, from October 27 through November 26. Owens’s photographs are now part of the museum’s permanent collection and may be displayed at other museums around Nepal.
“I used photography as a tool for learning as well as documenting a festival that was inherently chaotic,” Owens wrote of the exhibits in the Nepali Times. “As an anthropologist, I try to have as little impact as possible and introduce myself to the people involved and ask to meet them again to talk about what they were doing. I give them copies of the photographs and use them to ask questions.”
Owens said that the exhibits are “continuations of my practice of learning through sharing images and thanking those portrayed within them” and that the response to the photographs has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Many have pointed out relatives and friends that [the images] depict who are no longer with us,” he said. “As always, I continue to learn about the festival as people share their memories and thoughts while looking at the photos.”
Bruce Owens Photos