Photography & Arts: Tradition

“The Fluorescent People: Shedding Light on Tradition”

In Northern Thailand, a village of the Lisu hilltribe is confronted with an invasion of strange installations made of mass consumer goods. “The Fluorescent People,” a sobriquet earned for their flashy attire, pose and interact with the camera.

With his project, a exhibit at Bangkok’s annual French festival, Marc Lathuilliere aims to question the ethonocentric vision photography tends to give the minority groups we wrongly label as “traditional.”

Lathuillere reminds his audience that much of what we see as customary and constant is a self-made illusion. The Lisu culture he captured is modern in its own sense—it’s our perceptions that are skewed towards a past we hope to capture and freeze.

“Though people insist on calling their attire “traditional” they, on the contrary, show their own adaptation to the modern world,” the French photographer notes, “We never say someone is wearing a traditional costume when we see them wearing a shirt and necktie; maybe we should. Western men have been wearing the same costume for almost 200 years. The Lisu costume, on the contrary, has undergone major changes in the last hundred years.”

Traditions can stem from anywhere and we cherish and rely on them to foster personal and cultural identities. It is for this reason—and because of their great power—that we must be mindful about the ones that we create, and as Marc Lathuilliere points out, in which we choose to believe.

Thank your for the submissions for this month’s theme, traditions. In honor and April and spring, next month we are going to take a closer look at nature. We look forward to seeing what inspires you.

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