On September and October 2012, Gamze Yalçın and Esteve Serra Clavera crossed Bhutan from West to East. During that trip over a 150 Polaroid pictures and dozens of illustrations were capturing the endless details of their journey. A humble way to capture the surrounding majesty and humanity.
Bhutan 1912 is based on a fictional story of a forgotten expedition material from Bhutan being found in a brocante market somewhere in Europe. Those would be original pictures and drawings made while an expedition back in early 20th century when the country was still yet to be discovered by the western eyes. The aim of the project is to show Bhutan through some Polaroid photographs and illustrations by means of exhibitions and collectible items while supporting social initiatives in Bhutan as gratitude for the wonderful experience the authors had there. Bhutan 1912 has agreed to donate the net proceeds to Unicef Bhutan.
The media chosen for the illustrations is the thickest hand-made paper available from the Jungshi Handmade Paper Factory. The works combine two different sizes (aprox. A5 and A6) using intense red wool thread to create dramatic patchworks. Several types of permanent markers and acrylic paint spice up the drawings. Each piece of paper describe some of the characters from Gamze’s dreams about Bhutan being the girl with white hair the main one. The red thread binds those characters together showing a complete views of the imaginary world; a world embraced by gentle slope mountains and fluffy clouds. Brocante frames are brought to a second life after some polishing and whitening; a clear contrast to the black background used when mounting the illustrations.
The Polaroids depict sceneries, people and day to day activities of the traditional Bhutan under the lenses of a leather SX-70 and a OneStep Express. The films used are from The Impossible Project, being the black and white prints the PX 600 Silver Shade and PX100 Silver Shade Cool and the colour ones the PX 680 Color Shade and PX 70 Color Shade Cool. Due to the outdated and unstable chemicals and the lack of any trace of modern-life aspects such as cars or electricity posts, it all adds up to an antique look.
The exhibition collection consists of fourteen illustration patchworks on hand-made paper in vintage wooden frames and eight large format (107×88 cm) and 8 medium format (53.5×44 cm) digital C-prints (Lambda) of Polaroids. The photographic prints are mounted on DIBOND body with a DIASEC finish and having an aluminium sub-frame on the back. An antique cabinet customised with illustrations shares the space with the hanging works and contains some Bhutanese items, drawings and photo prints.
The first exhibition took place in TaarT (Maastricht, The Netherlands) from the 16th of February until the 3rd of May of 2013. The second exhibition was held at CoffeeYou (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) from the 2nd of August until the 15th of September 2013. The third exhibition was part of the Dutch Design Week 2013 and was hosted by Pinkie Patisserie (Eindhoven, The Netherlands) from the 19th until the 27th of October 2013. The project truly became international after the fourth exhibition which set foot in addressistanbul (Istanbul, Turkey). There are some ongoing talks with galleries and foundations as we speak and is the organizer’s wish to make their artworks travel around the globe.
On the opening of the first exhibition the first collectible item of Bhutan 1912 was released: polacards. The polacard set consist of a selection of 15 Polaroids printed in 350g/m2 paper with the same size as the original pictures. Each of the polacards has a brief description of the depicted subject, its location and the Polaroid camera used. For the ones that like to stick to the analogue way in the digital days, a stamp placeholder has been designed so that the word can be spread out using the postal service.