It's time once more for Art Hop, Burlington's once a year art festival.
Over 600 artists will be showing work in over 100 places in
Burlington's South End.
Check out the SEABA (South End Art's and Business) website for the full scoop.
This year Pine Street Art Works is excited to present a series of
photographs by Heinrich Harrer taken in the years preceding the
Chinese takeover of Tibet in 1951. The prints are from The Heinrich
Harrer Limited Edtion Portfolio, Leslie DiRusso,Pubisher.
From the website of The Heinrich Harrer Limited Edition Portfolio
"Heinrich Harrer, noted Austrian explorer and mountaineer, escaped over
the Himalaya from a prisoner-of-war camp in British India with Peter
Aufschnaiter, and then lived and worked as a fifth-ranked nobleman in
the forbidden city of Lhasa. As confidant and informal tutor to the
Fourteenth Dalai Lama, Harrer was afforded access to ceremonies and
customs that had been rarely witnessed by Westerners.
" In the company of the Tibetan nobility, Harrer photographed a virtual
family album of their lives and, in so doing, captured the richness and
heart of a people: the moments with friends and family who had long
accepted the photographer's eye. The Tibetans' joy at play, the leisure
of the nobility, the splendor of the Buddhist rituals, the windswept
plains of the high plateaus,Harrer's photographs document this with a
mountaineer's sense of scale and an explorer's sensitivity to culture.
"Harrer left Lhasa in advance of the Chinese army in December 1950. Harrer's memoir, Seven Years in Tibet,
has been translated into 53 languages, with more than four million
copies sold. In October 1997, a motion picture based on his book,
starring Brad Pitt as young Heinrich Harrer, was released by Tristar to
major box-office success. Seven Years in Tibet, the book, again soared on best-seller lists around the world.
Harrer's body of work spanned more than six decades of exploration on
six continents. Harrer received numerous honors, including the Eiger
Gold Medal, Gold Humboldt Medal and the Explorers Club Medal, for his
many expeditions and explorations, which number more than 600. He wrote
23 books and received credit on more than 40 film productions.
"Heinrich Harrer probably didn't realize it at the time, but his
photographs captured a culture that has now all but vanished. His
photographs are significant because he was actually shooting for the
Dalai Lama, documenting Lhasa so the Dalai Lama could see what life was
like outside the Potala. That gave Harrer unique access to ceremonies
and scenes of everyday life that no other Westerner has ever had.
It's really miraculous that these photographs exist at all. Heinrich
Harrer discovered a can of unexposed 35mm movie film and bought a used
camera from a Tibetan friend. He didn't have a light meter, but he had
five years to study the city and its people."
In October 2002, His Holiness the Dalai Lama presented Harrer with the
International Campaign for Tibet's Light of Truth Award to honor
Harrer's humanitarian effort to bring the situation in Tibet to
Heinrich Harrer and the exiled Dalai Lama remained steadfast friends until Harrer's death on January 7, 2006. "
Leslie DiRusso, Publisher
Heinrich Harrer Photograph, LIFE Magazine, April 23, 1951
Harrer's Nazi Past
At the time that the film Seven Years In Tibet was being made, the German Magazine Stern
came out with an article disclosing that Harrer had been a member of
the Nazi Party in Austria. Google it, it's all over the place.
As a curator, an ethical person and a Jew, I had to think a lot about
this information. To say that I spent many a restless night would be an
understatement. My decision to exhibit the pictures is based on a
couple of ideas.
These photographs are do not exist in the realm of fine art. That is,
they are not a statement Harrer is making about himself or his beliefs,
but about the subject he was shooting. They are documentary images,
meant for that purpose. (I understand the complexities of documentary photography, but perhaps another time...) They were taken at the request of The Dalai Lama and
document a moment in history that is not only crucial in the history of
Tibet and China, but of which there is almost no other visual
A close reading of Seven Years In Tibet (which I loved,
by the way, it's a great read) did not convince me of any racial,
political or eugenicist motivation, at least as far as Tibet is
concerned. We don't know what Harrer thought about Jews, Gypsies or
Homosexuals - the usual victims of Nazi Terror. He claims to have
joined the Nazi Party to be able to secure a position on a state funded
climb, and to teach skiing. He claims he only put on the Nazi uniform
once, to get married.
On this subject Orville Schell said ''There are not that many moments
in life when to claim to be a craven careerist of the most calculating
sort is a step up from ignominy.'' At any rate, Harrer was in a
Prisoner Of War Camp during the war and what he did politically before
the war we don't know. After his time in Tibet he dedicated much of his
time to helping the Tibetan cause. He was vetted by Simon Wiesenthal,
came out OK, and that's good.
"We must look at these photographs and remember that China invaded
Tibet in 1950 and since then has systematically destroyed the
indigenous cultural and religious practices. We must remember that
Tibetan culture now exists primarily in exile. We must acknowledge the
haunting nature of images of a culture now erased. We must realize that
imperial nations destroy and create. After all, it was the imperial
agenda of the Nazis, one that sent a young SS officer named Heinrich
Harrer to India in the first place. And we must acknowledge the
imperial and expansionist nation that we too live in, a country that is
destroying Iraq even while it produces beautiful and haunting images of
this destruction. We must remember for that is what Harrer's
photographs insist we do. We must remember Empire and be moved by Art. "
Laurie Essig, Professor Of Sociology, Middlebury College, written for PSAW