The Study of a Timeless Culture
Photographs by Joseph N. Barker
with text by Linda Leaming
Vanishing Faces Of Bhutan: The Study of a Timeless Culture provides a rare glimpse into the every day lives of people living in remote Himalayan villages as they go about their daily rituals: shopping, praying, dancing, selling their produce, eating, meeting friends, celebrating, playing archery, and working the land. As a photographer and world traveler, Joseph N. Barker visited people in their natural environment and made these images during visits to Bhutan between 2004 and 2007. “Vanishing Faces” is a nod to the Buddhist notions of impermanence and time passing. Some of the people in these photos have passed on to their next lives. The children have grown up, and now perhaps some have children of their own. None of them are what they were at that brief moment in time when Barker snapped their photo and engaged with them. They have “vanished,” but they are also timeless.
Portraits of farmers, mayors, children, Buddhist monks, nuns, and bureaucrats are set against some of the most stunning imagery in the world. Barker is able to capture the essence of the Bhutanese people in these powerful but also intimate portraits. They seem to recognize the humanity in him, as they gaze directly into the camera or look away shyly. These are insightful portraits of Bhutanese and their guardian deities, their shops, the magnificent mountains they call home, as well as their work and play. In their faces we see hope, humor, struggle, and a strong sense of self. They know who they are, and they welcome Barker and his camera to share their journey.