Photos: Albertina d’Urso
Before the Chinese occupation in 1949-50, Tibetans where estimated to be up to 6 million. Now in their original land live around 4.5 million people only. One million have been killed or died due to torture or starvation during the Chinese invasion, while the rest (the official number is 150.000, but they are supposed to be more) live as political refugees, scattered all around the world. This work mainly focuses on the exiled Tibetans across the world, on their lives and their stories, following on the steps of the Tibetans who had to run away from their homeland. Most of them had to cross the Himalayan range on foot in order to defend their cultural and religious identity, their traditions and their language from Chinese repression.
The port of arrival of the thousands of Tibetans who every year risk their lives crossing the border illegally, is Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile and Dalai Lama’s place of residence. Some refugees stop here, others move on to the South of India or to Nepal, while others go to Europe or America to begin a new life, adapting themselves to the new situations but always holding onto their traditions. No matter the place they end up, Tibetan refugees always keep alive what the Chinese government is killing in their homeland.
This project took around 10 years to complete. Through the years the photographer has been shooting Tibetan refugees in several areas of India (Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Sikkim, Darjeeling, Ladakh, Bodhgaya), Nepal, Taiwan, New York, London, Paris, Zurich, Rome, Brussels, Amsterdam and Toronto, documenting their activities, culture and traditions in the country where they now live, trying to describe their new lives in their new homes and private moments, always focusing on their emotions and attachment to their homeland.
Out of Tibet’s goal is to rejoin visually all the Tibetans in exile who are now displaced all around the world, living in a limbo, suspended between the place which they belong to and have left and the place where they are at now. Their world revolves today around a unique de facto state, a prime minister (just elected) and a government which no country in the world recognizes. They have an official language and their own medicine, symbols, calendar, and above all they have a strong spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, which , by the way, has given his personal blessing to this project.