t h e 9-10-3 p r o j e c t
The Voices and Visions of Unsung Heroes
The exile capital for Tibetan refugees, Dharamsala, India has a charm that can either seem quaint and ordinary or strikingly out of place. The stains and scars of the past are covered up by brightly colored prayer flags, and relegated to pieces of literature that the tourists pick up, skim, and shake their head in disbelief upon completion. There are a number of places where the memories ooze out in a somewhat unmarketable way, but for the most part, Dharamsala triumphantly celebrates the Tibetan culture - while swaddling the dehumanizing memories in the folds of their robes and tucks of their chubas.
The 9-10-3 Project puts the prayer flags of Dharamsala in the foreground, but also stirs the wind. It deals with the force of labels human beings invent that cause severe destruction, dehumanization, and identity reformation. The names "dissident", "freedom fighter", "nun", "activist" or "prisoner" all carry inescapable connotations and consequences that manifest in ways only barely accessible to an inquisitive outsider.
We're interested in this dichotomy of why the hellish past must be isolated from the exiled present; why accounts of political prisoners' experiences are promptly punctuated with: "He escaped to India and presently lives in Dharamsala." One might be left with the impression that only the pain is sexy enough to read, that the rest of this survivor's life is insignificant, and somehow, as if upon exiting the prison walls, his or her life becomes ordinary and normal.
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