Nicholas Vreeland’s latest exhibition ‘photos for Rato’, explores the daily life of monks in the Drastang Monastery. Vreeland himself is a monk and hence all these photographs are taken by the perspective of an insider. All these images are very calm and give sense of peace, but for most of the people it’s very monotonous, as they are very straight forward and still. They usually tend to like images such as young monk memorizing, his holiness the Dalai Lama at Rato drastang and few others.
I found this image ‘Young Rato monk delivering the milk’ very interesting. As few months ago i heard a story about how small kids are forced to become a monk at early age due to a poverty and illiteracy in that region. For them becoming a monk is the only way to access necessary education and proper food. Therefore I associate this image a lot to this particular story. The way photographer has positioned the boy is very interesting, there is some kind of lost expression on his face which reminds me of the story more and more. Also for me monks and mountains are just inseparable things, there is very distinct contrast between the landscape and the subject, which is interesting.
As an outsider I perceive this image much differently, hence I would like to know, what are your thoughts about this photograph?
What made you interested in this particular young monk?
Nicholas Vreeland’s reply:
This young monk is the son of an ex Rato monk who is a friend of mine. I’ve know this monk since he was a very small child. He came to the monastery willingly and spent a few years there. He then gave up his monastic vows. I don’t know where he is now.
I took this photograph as he was walking from to his teacher’s room to the home of one of our incarnate lamas to deliver some milk. His teacher, who died recently, was one of his father’s close friends in the monastery, and the incarnate lama is a relative of his. Life in the monastery is sort of like family life; it’s just a different kind of family.