New Photo Exhibit on Cultures in Transition

Middlebury Institute faculty, staff, and students may have noticed the new photo exhibit in the upper McCone atrium installed earlier this month. Oliver Klink built a 15 year photographic project, called Cultures In Transition, based on 5 Asian countries (Bhutan, Myanmar, Mongolia, China, India). In 2001, on his first trip, he was completely in awe of the incredible diversity, both in the environment and the culture of Asia. Countries seemed to be in rapid transition, from agrarian to urban, from antiquated to modern, from a historical relic to a future superpower. The exhibit will be on display through December 31, 2019.

Cultures in Transition aims at showing the changes that people go through, the subtleties that make their life evolve, the spiritual guiding light. Klink resisted depicting the visual transitions, such as the new electronic devices, the high-rise buildings going up like mushrooms, the freeways built as quickly as sand castles, the modern transportation, the influence of western clothing, the packaged food and the old villages turned into tourist attractions. Cultures in Transition is about something deeper, something that it took time to observe, to detect, and to understand. Klink watched people, started to feel their emotions about change, their worries, their acceptance. He witnessed them falling behind, trying to hold on to their comfort zones, their culture, and their spirituality. Everyone that he interacted with described transition differently, but one thing that was common was that the typical visual signs of “progress” were the least of their worries. The loss of emotional connection with themselves and their communities was their most significant concern. These people lived their lives on Spirit, Heart, and Soul.

Photograph: Oliver Klink