Nepal-Qatar: The Void and the Fullness

Frédéric Lecloux
on
Nepal-Qatar: The Void and the Fullness

Organised by Social Science Baha, Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility and, Photo.circle
14 July 2016 (Thursday), Kathmandu


Nepal is being emptied. Before the earthquakes of 2015, driven by a lack of job opportunities at home, each day,  1500 Nepalis were going abroad to work, mainly to Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Despite a degrading life and work conditions, violence, heat, suicides, accidents, ‘heart attacks’, abuses, the cost of the journey, the daily life in the labour camps, and solitude, Nepalis leave, and leave again, making their fellow countrymen want to leave as well. This more or less voluntary siphoning off of the labour force of Nepal, and the reverse cash flow amounting to 30 per cent of the country’s GDP, have huge implications on the social fabric. Women are left alone to take care of the household. Matrimonial ties loosen. The elders, who were traditionally looked after by the younger generations, are also alone. Agriculture is receding due to a lack of farmers. Villages are being impoverished. Hence, the questions: At what cost is this additional income generated? What is the cost for the men who migrate? For the families who stay behind? For the villages? For the nation? Photographer Frédéric Lecloux tries to raise this question through a photographic dialogue between the two sides of the same one absence in Nepal and Qatar.

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Frédéric Lecloux was born in Brussels. He graduated with honours from the École Nationale Supérieur de la Photographie in Arles, France (2016) and is a workshop teacher at the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographies in Arles, at Photo.circle in Kathmandu, and at the Maison du Geste et de l’Image in Paris.

‘Nepal-Qatar: the void and the fullness’ (2016, ongoing) is part of a series he has been working on, namely, ‘Explanation, peace, oblivion’ (2014, ongoing); ‘Le Bord de l’éclipse’ (2002, ongoing); ‘Everyday Epiphanies’ (1994-2013); ‘Brumes à venir’ (2008-2012); ‘L’Usure du Monde’ (2004-2005); and ‘Kathmandu 2058’ (2001-2003). Consciously or not, each important series originates from the question of loss, addressed in a documentary way (the loss of hope in the war) or in an intimate way (the loss of the other, of literature, of identity, of photography itself), or one being the pretext to the other (the loss of the homeland and of childhood, of certainties and of travelling…). Following the path laid out by Nicolas Bouvier, whether facing the enigma of parenthood in a profoundly mutating Nepal or in reminiscing about Belgium, photography is no longer about telling the world as it is seen. Summoned to provide relief from the loss, photography becomes a poetic solution to inhabit the world, and an alibi to draw a universe that be more acceptable than the real one. Frédéric Lecloux’s lives in Nyons, Drôme, France, and his work is distributed by Vu’ agency in Paris and published by Le Bec en l’air in Marseilles.

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