Support Tibetan Artists While Staying Home

For so many of us around the world, now is the time stay in but it doesn’t have to be boring or unproductive. We can all experience amazing culture and support Tibetan artists in the process!

I was recently refunded a bunch of theatre and events tickets and now that we’re facing weeks/months of isolation, it’s a good time to remind ourselves how much great art is being produced by Tibetans. I’m more than happy to re-direct the money to supporting Tibetan artists at this difficult time for them.

A lot of people forget that Tibetan artists are, more often than not, doing everything by themselves. How many Tibetan filmmakers, musicians, artists have agents, managers, assistants, producers or any kind of professional body of support? Very very few. How many Tibetan artists generously put their work online for free? Too many. This post is about how we can place value on our artistic community by GIVING THEM OUR MONEY.

So let’s start by watching the incredible Royal Café on demand and I’ll keep adding to this post as I come across other ways of giving Tibetan artists our money.

FILM

  1. ROYAL CAFE – £9.99 to buy, £4.99 to rent

MUSIC

“Heartstrings” by Tenzin Choegyal – Album price is AUD 8
https://tenzinchoegyal.bandcamp.com/releases

2. Tracks by Yesh – USD 0.99 each
https://yesh.bandcamp.com/
Amala: https://yesh.bandcamp.com/track/amala
Glass: https://yesh.bandcamp.com/track/glass
Surface: https://yesh.bandcamp.com/track/surface

 

 

A Joint Review of the Play “Pah-La” by Abhishek Majumdar

Tibetan Review has kindly published a joint review that I wrote along with four other UK based Tibetans, Sonam Anjatsang, Georgina Choekyi Doji, Kunsang Kelden and Tenzing Zega.

The back story to the play “Pah-La”, currently running at London’s Royal Court Theatre until 27 April, is quite long and convoluted so I won’t go into everything here. What started as concerns about the lack of Tibetans in the cast gave way to addressing larger issues about the actual content of the play. I didn’t write about the casting debacle as I didn’t feel like I had anything to add to my previous article about the 2016 play “Shangri-La”.

With this review of “Pah-La” I feel so honoured and privileged to have had four fiercely smart and passionate co-authors who were very generous with their time and with sharing their thoughts. We all want plays and stories about Tibet to succeed but with “Pah-La” something didn’t feel right so this review is the result of our many discussions.

Our stories are being told by others but talking back is the one power we can exercise.

Please read our review on Tibetan Review here: http://www.tibetanreview.net/pah-la-a-shallow-and-confusing-examination-of-tibetan-non-violent-resistance/

 

“We Were Made for Home” – Poetry Event in London on 5 September 2018

we were made for home speakers

This year has flown by without my managing to blog here too much. In May I spoke about Tibetans and our special relationship with Apple at RightsCon 2018 in Toronto in May  and the following month I was beamed into a UN Side Event in Geneva by the International Service for Human Rights to give an overview of freedom of expression in Tibet. A personal favourite speaking engagement of mine though was in July when I gave a talk called “Adventures in Tibetan Social Media” to the YTEC Youth Camp just outside London.

That brings me to “We Were Made for Home”, a poetry evening on Wednesday at Burley Fisher Books in East London. I’m really looking forward to talking about my work with High Peaks Pure Earth and also being in the company of young Tibetan writers and scholars. It’s not often we get Tibetan poetry nights in London so a huge thank you to Tibet Relief Fund for hosting and putting everything together!

Please join us on Wednesday if you can, the Facebook Event Page is here for all the details: https://www.facebook.com/events/2185528025060845/

FLY by ANU gets a video remix

Everyone knows FLY (Phur) by ANU and the accompanying video from last year. The other day on WeChat I came across this amazing new, and I’m assuming unofficial, video for it that seems to be promoting Yushu, where the ANU guys hail from.

I’m sharing the video here because I love it so much and hope you enjoy it too! Have a great summer!

Speaking to the BBC about Dhondup Wangchen’s Arrival in USA

It’s been heartwarming to see all the positive responses from all around the world to the news that Dhondup Wangchen arrived safely in the US on Christmas Day. Dhondup Wangchen’s escape from Tibet has been a rare piece of good news!

There has been strong media coverage of Dhondup Wangchen’s story that started with our Filming for Tibet press statement on 27 December. There have been news reports on New York Times, Reuters, Guardian, amongst many others.

Yesterday I was invited to speak with Sharanjit Leyl on BBC World News during the 8pm news, the video is above!

After the news of Dhondup Wangchen’s arrival came out, there were statements welcoming him from many organisations who had worked on his campaign. Thank you to Amnesty International, Dui Hua Foundation, International Campaign for Tibet and Students for a Free Tibet. Also the President of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Dr. Lobsang Sangay praised Dhondup Wangchen for his “courage and contribution to the cause of Tibet.”

 

Similarly, many took to Twitter including Nancy Pelosi and the Committee to Protect Journalists:

This is all so amazing and quite surreal, considering it’s been ten years since Dhondup Wangchen started filming “Leaving Fear Behind” –  what a journey.

For those who want to go back and watch “Leaving Fear Behind”, it’s online here: https://vimeo.com/50220285

To read about the day I spent with Dhondup Wangchen on 10 March, 2008, read my piece for CPJ here: https://cpj.org/blog/2009/12/the-story-of-dhondup-wangchen-a-filmmaker-jailed-i.php

Happy new year and see you in 2018!

 

My Interview with John Billington for LondonNey

It was my absolute pleasure to interview John Billington for LondonNey about his lifelong engagement for Tibet. John, or “Uncle John” as he’s known in my family, was kind enough to come all the way from his home in Wales to spend the best part of an afternoon with us in London on a Saturday last month.

The full interview on YouTube is embedded at the top of this post and above are some other photos from the day.

A huge thank you of course to Uncle John but also to the entire LondonNey crew who worked extremely hard to make sure the filming on the day went smoothly. We had a productive day but it was also a lot of fun, with plenty to talk about and also to eat and drink!

New for HuffPo – “Madame D: A Cautionary Tale of Language and Duck Momos”

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Ever since I saw the new restaurant Madame D’s description on Twitter, it bothered me that they described their food as an interpretation of the food prepared by “Chinese-Tibetan immigrants in India”.

The issue I take with this term is elaborated on over on my HuffPo page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59536635e4b0326c0a8d0c6b

Please have a read and share!

“Art, As Told By” – My Piece on Contemporary Tibetan Art for Gorilla Arthouse and LUSH

Gorilla Arthouse’s Instagram post about my piece on the LUSH website. Photo credit to Selim Korycki.

My Tibet work and my role as Editor of High Peaks Pure Earth has taken me to all sorts of places I couldn’t have imagined. Thanks to the lovely team at International Tibet Network, I’ve been connected to the rather amazing British cosmetics company LUSH and have a piece up on their website on contemporary Tibetan art!

I should go back a few months and mention that LUSH were kind enough to host myself, Kunsang Kelden and Alison Reynolds and Mandie McKeown from International Tibet Network on the Main Stage at their annual LUSH Summit which took place at Tobacco Dock in London on 8-9 February 2017. Even before that, LUSH had been supporting Tibet by donating proceeds of their Charity Pot to International Tibet Network’s work, so cool!

All four of us were blown away by the event where we were given completely free reign to speak for 45 minutes about the current situation in Tibet, art, music and freedom of expression.

Ali and Mandie did a stellar job condensing the situation in Tibet into a short amount of time and also providing an overview of campaigns leading to very concrete steps, such as taking action for detained language advocate Tashi Wangchuk. Kunsang and I focused on creative expressions inside and outside Tibet. I got to highlight the work of Woeser and Kunsang talked about her work on Lhakar Diaries too, focusing on young Tibetan artists.

We loved our day at the Summit and the talk has also been recorded and posted online on the LUSH Player, check out this link to watch the whole thing: http://player.lush.com/tv/summit-supporting-free-speech-tibet-banned-expression

So when I was asked by LUSH’s Gorilla Arthouse to contribute a piece about my views on art, I was thrilled. It was a great chance to think about why art is important and what creative expression says about the situation in Tibet and for Tibetans around the world today. I’m fortunate that all the real work is already done for me by artists and writers such as Woeser, Bhuchung D Sonam, Gade, Tenzing Rigdol and Tashi Norbu!

I’d like to end by thanking LUSH and Gorilla Arthouse (especially Graeme) for the opportunity to reach a new audience and for their support of our Tibet work. Check out Gorilla Arthouse on Facebook here and click through to my article here onto the LUSH website: https://www.facebook.com/GorillaArthouse/posts/1484855598214223

Here is the direct link to the LUSH website: https://uk.lush.com/article/art-told-dechen-pemba

“White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings” – My Late Uncle Dr Pemba’s Book Launches in Delhi and Dharamsala

dr-pemba-niyogi-1

On 26 November 2011, my Uncle Dr. Tsewang Yishey Pemba passed away at the age of 79 in Siliguri, India. It was a great loss to our family but his distinguished life and career was honoured all over the world by those who remembered him.

Even though we still feel his loss, it is heartening to be able to announce that his novel “White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings: A Tibetan Tale of Love and War” has been published posthumously in India by Niyogi Books and will be launched at an event in Delhi this coming Friday, 17 February 2017. For the full details of the launch, see this link to the Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1220255771396207/

Even though my Uncle was a distinguished surgeon and had a long medical career, he had a huge passion for literature and the arts and spent a considerable amount of his free time furiously tapping away on his typewriter. His memoirs “Young Days in Tibet” were published in 1957 and Idols on the Path, the first Tibetan-English novel, came out in 1966.

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It was always his dream to publish more of his fiction so this makes the publication of “White Crane, Lend Me Your Wings”, after more than a 50 year gap since “Idols on the Path”, all the more special and poignant. The novel is a work of historical fiction set in the Nyarong Valley of Kham, Eastern Tibet, in the first half of the twentieth century.

As the book description says:

The novel begins with a never-told-before story of a failed Christian mission in Tibet and takes one into the heartland of Eastern Tibet by capturing the zeitgeist of the fierce warrior tribes of Khampas ruled by their chieftains. This coming-of-age narrative is a riveting tale of vengeance, warfare and love unfolded through the life story of two young boys and their family and friends.

The personal drama gets embroiled in a national catastrophe as China invades Tibet forcing it out of its isolation. Ultimately, the novel delves into themes such as tradition versus modernity, individual choice and freedom, the nature of governance, the role of religion in people’s lives, the inevitability of change, and the importance of human values such as loyalty and compassion.

For those who can’t make it to the Delhi book launch, there will also be a launch event in Dharamsala on 23 February 2017.

I’d like to take the chance to thank in particular my cousin Acha Lhamo Pemba La who has been working hard to see her father’s wish realised. Special thanks must also go to Shelly Bhoil for all her help and to Trisha De Niyogi and all at Niyogi Books too. I’d also like to take a moment to remember my dear Aunt, Dr Pemba’s wife Tsering Sangmo La, who passed away on 8 September, 2016 – they had been married for over 50 years.

For more information on the novel please visit: http://niyogibooksindia.com/portfolio-items/white-crane-lend-me-your-wings-a-tibetan-tale-of-love-and-war/

If anyone would like to get the ball for the book rolling over on GoodReads, please head to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34208098-white-crane-lend-me-your-wings

Finally, you can order the book from Amazon India – please feel free to rate and review it! Follow this link to Amazon: http://bit.ly/DrTYPemba