The Langtang Memory Project

“Sempa Tserah, Kipu Sho”: Memory and Post-Disaster Recovery in the Langtang Valley 

Curated by
Austin Lord, Jennifer Bradley, Tsering Lama, Norcho Lama, Gyalpo Lama and Prasiit Sthapit

Sempa tserah’—Our hearts and minds are not in a good place, something is missing.
Kipu Sho’—We invite happiness and well-being back to us.

In what ways can disaster change the way a community thinks about its past, present, and future? How do people use and relate to photographs in the wake of tragedy, as they try to respond to disorientation, loss, and absence? In what ways are new futures woven using threads of the past?

You miss them, you want to talk to them, you want to see them, but you cannot do anything about that. It’s sempa tserah.”—Tsering Lama

On April 25, 2015, an earthquake ravaged Nepal and triggered a massive avalanche that devastated the Langtang Valley. This collaborative photo exhibition explores the visual history of the Langtang Valley of Nepal, drawing from the “living archive” of the Langtang Memory Project. Here we highlight the voices of Langtangpa women, who retell their own stories about Langtang, while reflecting on the aftermath of disaster, questions of cultural heritage, and ongoing processes of social change.

“When we look at the old photos, we feel like these people are still with us. When we look at the old videos, when they are singing and dancing, it feels like they are still alive. But after the video is finished, we look around and we don’t see these people. It’s sempa tserah” –Yangjen Tamang

As the Langtangpa continue working to rebuild their lives, our exhibition focuses on the ongoing struggle to balance two different feelings: a longing to move out from the shadow of the tragedies that shape us, and the hopeful sense that we might find ways to invite happiness back into our lives.