HORSES OF THE WIND
I went to the Himalayas, to the end of the world. I have been back there several times. Fascinated by the coexistence of the sacred and the profane, I wanted to show how these medieval scenes fit into the contemporary world. And pay homage to the noble struggle of the Tibetan people.
Following Alexandra David-Neel and vintage photography, I wanted to rediscover the wonder of the early days. In the footsteps of "Tintin in Tibet", how could I find a photographic equivalent to Herge’s “ligne claire” (clear line)?
After ten years and four trips to these Himalayan countries whose values I ended up adopting, it was time to show this project.
It would not only be an exhibition but also a book. Not the millionth book on the Himalayas or Tibetan Buddhism, but an object. A strange and precious object, directly inspired by traditional Tibetan books. I got down to editing it during the covid crisis. The planes were unfortunately grounded and I had caught cancer. I produced the book in close collaboration with Michel Wattebled, craftsman-designer. He designed and manufactured the box in his workshop in Perpignan.
The Tsug Lhakhang, the main temple was buzzing with activity. Leh was hosting an important religious festival at the end of winter. Buddhist congregations from all over Ladakh had come, monks of all ages had taken over the place.
I was preparing to photograph them, installing my camera on its tripod. But for a giant with yellow hair, it's difficult to vanish completely.
A very small boy - he must have been the age of Alban, my grandson - with a shaved head, dressed in a red robe, was patiently waiting at the camera. I lifted him up so he could look at the groundglass, under the focusing cloth. He exclaimed surprise, presumably something like: "but everything is upside down!" Suddenly, the other little monks wanted to see too. They stood in line, kindly waiting their turn to look through the camera, which I had adapted to their height. The queue was getting longer! Finally, even the adults, then the old men, who at first pretended not to pay attention to this profane machine, came in their turn to take a look at the groundglass. Some appeared to be important figures. All of them thanked me with a nice smile.
The next day my phone rang. It was Anne, my daughter-in-law, who called me for the first time since my departure: “Alban woke up this morning saying: I dreamed of grandpa Richard, he was taking photos from the top of a mountain". When I told my Ladakhi friends about this dream, they looked at me in a strange way. “What a beautiful dream! This is a blessing" they told me, suggesting that it had been sent by the masters who had looked through my camera.