Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Phil Borges Tibetan Portrait

Jigme and Sonam are sisters whose nomadic family had just come down from the Himalayan highlands to their 16,500 ft. winter camp on the Tibetan Plateau. When I gave Jigme a Polaroid of herself she looked at it, squealed and ran into her tent. I assumed that this was one of the only times she had seen herself since her family did not own a mirror.

These nuns had just arrived at the Dolma Ling nunnery in India after fleeing Tibet. In 1992 they were arrested, beaten, shocked with electric cattle prods and imprisoned two years for placing posters in Lhasa protesting the occupation of Tibet. Several times while talking, Dechen broke into tears, quitely excused herself and continued relating her story.

Palden was arrested at his monastery in 1959 and spent 24 years in prison, where he was tortured frequently --actually loosing 20 teeth in one beating. He managed to flee Tibet in 1987 and came to Dharamsala. He told me “ I no longer have anger for my captors. However, I feel it is my responsibility to let the outside world know what is happening in Tibet.”

For over twenty five years Phil Borges has lived with and documented indigenous and tribal cultures around the world. Through his work, he strives to create a heightened understanding of the issues faced by people in the developing world.

Through his exhibits and award-winning books, Phil attempts to create a relationship between the audience and his photographic subjects. “I want the viewer to see these people as individuals, to know their names and a bit of their history, not just to view them as an anonymous part of some remote ethnic or tribal group.”

Phil has hosted three television documentaries for Discovery and National Geographic as a part of a series that investigates indigenous cultures that still maintain a spiritual dialogue with the natural world.

Phil’s photographs are collected and exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide. His award-winning books have been published in four languages and in 1998 he was presented the Photo Media Magazine "Photoperson of the Year" award. In December, 2003 Phil was honored with the Humanitarian Award, receiving the Lucie at the 1st Annual International Photography Awards. In 2005 he was named a Giraffe Hero for his humanitarian work. Phil teaches and lectures internationally and is co-founder of Blue Earth Alliance, a 501c3 that sponsors photographic projects focusing on endangered cultures and threatened environments.

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