56 000 km of land and humans: faces, smiles, eyes, monuments, cultures, events … Kares le Roy brings us through Asia with pures, humanists photographs. Without judgements, he just makes us discover this unknown part of the world that as never been (or a very few times) photographed.
May be I’m a bit late to show you this project, which have been turning around a lot, but I think it’s still useful to talk about it. This book, 56 000km: un continent et des Hommes, it’s the story of an artist who decided to leave his continent, his world to visit, discover and document an over one: Asia. Irak, Iran, Tadjikistan, Cashmire, India, Cambodgia, Mongonlia … so much visited country before ending at Istanbul, in Turkey.
Antoine: Before all, why this trip ? Did you have a particular “need”, which made you do this ?
Kares: I’ve always traveled a lot this past ten years. While learning my craft as a photographer, I was just waiting for the appropriated moment to link it to a long journey. When I felt it was the good moment, I packed up my stuff and I leaved without searching for good reasons to do it. My project setted by itself on my way: forgotten people, ancestral cultures that resists to the globalization. Later, I understood it was it was linked with a few searches and books I read about this part of the world. I’ve always wanted to know the beauty of the East, and in the same understand the stigmatization of arabs/muslims countries. It became essential in my work.
What countries have you visited, and why Asia ?
During two years, I went through may be 20 countries in Asia: Sout-East Asia, South Asia, East Asia, Central Asia and Middle-East. I’ve traveled pretty everywhere in the world, but for a long journey, my wishes were more turned into Asia. There is a big diversity of people and cultures. We are used to think that this continent is limited to “slanting eyes” but arabs and persians are also asians.
Can you tell me more about your “Grand-mother of the Annapurnas” ?
The grand-mother with the red hat, who is on the cover of my book, “56 000 kilomètres – un continent et des hommes” is from Nepal. I took her picture during the trek of the Annapurnas in April 2010. I didn’t have a “real” contact with her. She was isolated behind her house, I took her portrait but I never find someone able to explain me who she was. Since, she became the muse of my project. She is representating everything I’m searching for: beauty with no artifice of forgotten people. I’m going back to find her in a few weeks and I hope she will still be alive. I’m organizing a big project around her to build her a house. I, by the way, made an appeal for donations with KissKissBankBank for the people that want to help me. Everything is well-explained there. (www.kisskissbankbank.com/ma-grand-mere-des-annapurnas)
What do you keep of this experience ?
It has been one year since I’m back and I’m just starting to digest this trip. At the beginning, I had a thousand stories to tell. It was a big mess in my head. I still have a thousand stories to tell, but I think more able to share them today. The trip open your mind a lot, but I think you also need to be very open-minded to start the trip… I would say, more than the patience linked to a very long trip, a long journey, I mainly learned to look at this part of the world with new eyes, in a different maneer.
Will you do this again on another continent ?
Not for the moment. I would like to stay focused on Asia, and mainly on Middle-East and Central Asia. I will go back to Iran and continue my work about Ancient Persia during the coming year. There is enough to do in this part of the world before going somewhere else. I will probably go back to Egypt too as soon as possible and continue my work about the Nubians, that I started recently. It’s a subject dear to my heart.
Quels sont les moments qui t’ont le plus marqué durant ton voyage ?
Iran, that was the main point of my trip, is, and will be the most beautiful and interesting place I’ve been visiting. In the culture as much as in the landscapes, the food or even the hosting. It was fabulous, and I’m inviting everybody to give interest in this country. However, I had two favorites: Cachemire and Tadjikistan. Based on the hills of North India, Cachemire is unrecorgnized after 22 years of war. I’ve discovered there a little paradise with, among others, the lake Dal at Srinagar. There, time seems to have stopped! In Tadjkistan, from Bozkashi matches to Monts Fan, I’ve discovered a secular culture.
What were the obstacles you met on your way ?
There have not been any real obstacle. Some countries such as Irak, that I crossed, might seem hard but it’s often very surprising how they are “in real”. The host is often easier and more comfortable than what we imagined. People take care of you and want to protect you. Globally, I think the most boring part when we travel is about administration and that’s available for almost every country. Getting a Visa is very hard, and particularly when we want to cross physical borders. I’ve lost a lot of time, and money in this and by two times I had to cross borders by plane instead of foot because I did not have the choice ! I keep a lot of frustration and bad memories from this.
Thanks a lot Kares for your answers !
Remember, Kares is waiting for your donation on KissKissBankBank to find back his grand mother from the Annapurnas. The project on KissKissBankBank
PS: Sorry if there is mistakes: I’m not very fluent in english.