Breton Schwarzenbach ’15 has captured a disappearing nomadic culture in his photography exhibit entitled “The Generation of Uncertainty.”
“It’s a global story about a people who are cutting away from their roots and moving away from a traditional livelihood, and I’m trying to convey some of that emotion of loss, and force people to think about that process as it applies to other cultures,” says Breton Schwarzenbach ’15 of his solo exhibit on display at Naropa University’s Lounge Gallery in Boulder, Colorado.
The show of large-scale photographs is the product of Schwarzenbach’s extensive time spent living with the Changpa nomads along the Indo-Tibetan border. His work presents the contemporary story of nomads confronting climate change, economics, and geo-politics in the Himalayas.
“In this new body of work, I was really diligent in selecting the images, and portraits specifically, that convey emotion to help people try and grasp that something is happening in this area that doesn’t fit with an expectation of what you might think,” he says.
For centuries, the Changpa have herded yak and Pashmina goats in the Changthang, a pristine high grassland spanning the border between Tibet and Ladakh, India. Today, the younger generation is leaving and pastoralism is dying out. “The Generation of Uncertainty” pays homage to the traditional livelihood in transition.
It raises questions about how all cultures experience and embrace change. Portraits are juxtaposed against landscape and images of human impact. The work is powerful, urging reflection about humanity’s role in a time of immense global transformation.
Now 23, Schwarzenbach began working with the Changpa six years ago. With support from a Keller Venture Grant, the Edith Gaylord Prize in Asian studies, and CC Career Center funding, he lived in the nomad camps and was able to bear witness with pen and camera. Naropa is housing the first scheduled exhibition of this work.
The show is on display from through Feb. 26 at the Lounge Gallery located inside Naropa’s Nalanda Campus at 6287 Arapahoe Avenue in Boulder. The opening reception runs 5:30- 7:30 pm. Jan. 22. Regular gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.
Schwarzenbach lives and works between Putney, Vermont and Colorado. In September, Schwarzenbach spoke and showed work as part of the Tibetan Children Education Foundation’s 25th Anniversary events at the Holter Museum in Helena, Montana. Last month he was featured in a solo exhibit for TOCA SHOES on New York City’s Lower East Side. Schwarzenbach received a BA from Colorado College.
More at: www.bretonschwarzenbach.com.