Chitwan National Park, the first protected area in Nepal, was established in 1973 after being a popular destination for hunting and trade amongst Nepal’s royalty and British colonists for over a century. Since then, it has become the face of biodiversity protection and tourism development. But this image has another side, that of indigenous people who have been dependent on natural resources for their sustenance. For communities like Bote, Majhi, Musahar, Kumal and Chepang, the forest is home.
The erased photographs of portraits and landscapes merging into each other are of children from indigenous communities born to army personnel who have abandoned them and their mothers. These children cannot acquire citizenship certificates as the 2015 constitution still discriminates against women and renders them stateless. A prohibitory clause supersedes the provisions regarding naturalized citizenship that prevents children of single mothers and those whose fathers refuse to acknowledge their paternity from obtaining citizenship certificates.
Karan Shrestha divides his time between Nepal and India. His works overlay encounters in physical landscapes over that of mental maps of people and spaces he comes across, so as to examine and restructure notions of the “present.” His practice incorporates drawings, sculpture, photography, text, film, and video. With stories of the everyday, his work seeks to blur the opposites that define our individual and collective identities.
All images from the series We Exist
Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts, Nepal, 2018
11.7″ x 17.15″