Zvezdana Bercko: Mystical Butane

Butane - the mystic monarchy in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains, is different to all the others countries in the world. Very special. The People of Butane are required to wear prescribed national clothes, the women are wearing long dresses, while the men are wrapped in a single piece of cloth, which is wrapped in a very complex procedure. The cloth must not hide the knees and it looks much like a bathrobe.

All the buildings must be built in the traditional style, the new buildings too. Smoking, plastic bags and advertising boards are strictly forbidden. They also have a limited number of tourists, who can visit Butane. Visiting Butane doesn’t mean you’re returning to the middle ages as Internet is available everywhere, and even the monks have mobile phones and computers. You can see at each step how ancient history and the 21st century are entwined and it seems that they were able to draw only the best from each other. The happiness of the People is more important than material things, they even try to measure happiness. The unique concept of gross national happiness replaces gross domestic product. Is Butane really the last Shangri-la, the land of eternal happiness and inner peace, the last paradise on earth? Or is it just a strictly controlled totalitarian stronghold, a “Himalayan Disneyland” for the tourists?

“Before I travelled to Butane, I had a bunch of questions and very few answers. After returning, I have even more questions and almost no answers. Butane never discloses itself fully to the visitors, it probably isn’t even allowed, and this is part of its mystique. “

Zvezdana Bercko, sociologist and journalist, has a traveller soul. It doesn’t matter whether the path leads to the other end of the world or just close at home, the only thing that matters is that she is far away from the crowded tourist destination. She swears by the though of Nejc Zaplotnik : ‘The path is the goal, and even thou you are visiting the same place again, you can always discover something new.’ She loves to return to the Himalayas that completely bewitched her years ago. The trip to Butane, where the exhibited photos were made in 2012, was a very special, very mysterious, almost mystical and unique experience. The camera is her constant companion on her journeys from the beginning. She loves to photograph landscapes and the glimpses of everyday life. She usually publishes her photos together with her travel reports, this being her first standalone photo exhibition.

Zvezdana Bercko – Mystical Butan

/2. 7. – 26. 9. 2014/
Hostel Pekarna, Ob železnici 16, Maribor