This zine captures the abundant beauty of Nepal

As he self-publishes his new photo magazine, Buddha Was Born Here, Olgaç Bozalp looks back on a spiritual and revelatory journey through the South Asian country

When the photographer Olgac Bozalp landed in Kathmandu, Nepal for a long overdue vacation, he had no pre-arranged schedule for the trip. The plan was simply to relax and meet the locals, and let their recommendations dictate the course of his travels. Bozalp also had no intention of taking any pictures, but that plan didn’t last long. After packing a single camera and 18 rolls of film, what was supposed to be a break from work gave way to his latest series: a moving, self-published zine titled Buddha was born here.

“In my work, I mix fashion, documentary and abstract photography,” Bozalp tells AnOther. “Most of the time, I act out these scenarios. But as soon as I arrived [in Nepal], everything I had created in my work already existed in people’s daily lives. It really inspired me.

A particularly striking image of Buddha was born here is of a man carrying a bale of foliage so large that it conceals all but his feet. It is an image that recalls the personal work of Bozalp, in particular his series Dad: Looking for Hüseyin, in which her father is pictured posing amid piles of black plastic crates. Throughout her career, Bozalp has repeatedly challenged our preconceptions of what constitutes fashion photography and expanded our definition of beauty through playful and endless experimentation – a curiosity that is also evident throughout. during Buddha was born here.

Shades of bright green, deep red, ocean blue and pastel pink punctuate the series, drawing surprising connections between seemingly disparate images. Portraits of individuals are paired with still lifes or landscape images of stand-alone landmarks; the result is an intriguing and thought-provoking reimagining of humanity’s intertwined relationship with the inanimate world.

While some images in Buddha was born here were captured by chance, others were staged in collaboration with the community that Bozalp was photographing. For example, early one morning, at 5 a.m., Bozalp woke up in Chitwan district, western Nepal, to the sight of a man walking his elephant. “The man was really in love with the elephants, the way he treated them,” says Bozalp. “I tried a few different poses that he suggested before taking the picture within minutes. Then they went on with their day.

Beyond the country’s manifest abundance of beauty, Bozalp says his motivations for visiting the region were partly spiritual. Born in Turkey but based in London, Bozalp describes working for five years with barely time to stop and reflect on the motivations and dreams that guided the direction of his life. In Nepal, happiness and fulfillment are presented as by-products of our internal rather than external worlds. It means taking time and investing energy in cultivating and nurturing our emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

“In London, we are in constant competition”, explains Bozalp. “For example, I get excited to shoot for a big brand or a big magazine, but then, once I started traveling more, I realized most people had never heard of the magazine. I made a whole story out of it in my head. What people are interested in is our relationships with each other at that moment in that second. It’s humiliating. Yes, Buddha was born here is a natural progression from Bozalp’s existing portfolio of work – which is as vast as it is impressive – but it is also an attempt to make sense of the world; a step towards the search for a higher meaning.

“The more I travel, the more I question what we are told, he explains. “In London we have one truth, but when I travel to, say, Nepal, they have a different truth. When I go to Jordan, they believe in something completely different. It makes me wonder: do I really believing in what I see and what people tell me? That was my starting point and my ending point: that there are many different truths that exist at the same time.

Buddha was born here by Olgaç Bozalp is out now.

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