Towards the last two months of my last visit to India in the spring of 2012, I encountered the Tibetan community in exile in India experiencing painful news of their people self-immolating in fire one after another in China-occupied Tibet. My experiences in the past visits in India (drawing a cremation site in Varanasi, documenting fire pits, cremation alters, and contemplating on life and death around fire) synchronized with this particular movement, an extreme way of ‘offering’ their bodies to ‘fire’ for asking freedom and peace.I could not help drawing large and small drawings as emotional response and with a sense of mourning.

After coming back to Vancouver, the self-immolation kept happening and I felt that my personal and professional task is not finished.

I have come back to India to continue to document and draw under the same theme.

8 May 2014

For Phakpa Gyalsten

For Phakpa Gyalsten who died in protest against Chinese mining activities in Tongbar town of Zogang County in Chamdo, Tibet on May 8.

He climbed onto a high building at the town center, and called out for Tibetan freedom. When attempts were made to stop him, he stabbed himself twice and jumped off the building.

he had told local people that he would do something to express the Tibetans’ collective opposition to the mining activities in the area,

Survived by his pregnant wife and 3 children