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Zone Upside Down series

Twelve zone hours apart between the locations of the globe, Canada and Nepal, the poetic video Zone Upside Down is not all about Nepalese way of life, cultural practices and beliefs, but offers spectators a reflection about their own westernized cultural beliefs and customs in parallel.

The 45-minute documentary, Zone Upside Down, consists of a series of individual short videos journeying through the areas of life from language and art, to politics and religion, to society and people.

Artist: Jolanta Lapiak.
Video, 45-minute.
Bkahtapur, Nepal; Calgary, Canada, 2004-2005.

Sections of the video

Manjushree (language and art): This age-old dance narration, appropriated into a modern medium and a foreign expression of the artist, has a multiple, interwoven nature of languages: artistic dance, so-called "sign language", and silent music. 4:05 minutes.

Bhaktapur (society and community): "Those things that were once religious icons become 'works of art' through collection. What is sacred becomes photogenic. What is ancient becomes antique with a high market price tag." - Aidan Warlow. 3.50 minutes.

To Survive or To Thrive (labour and play): Whether to survive or to thrive a life in terms of work or play, paid or not, and passionate or passive, is to experience an existence of self. 5.30 minutes

In Faith (religions): Without faith, a sense of death. Existential angst. Leap in faith. Aliveness. 11.15 minutes.

Water for Life: Which half of a glass is empty or full? Like any other symbols, water is one-sided, perceived as a symbol for life and is also an unthought-of symbol for death, rather than perceived in gestalt. 2.35 minutes.

Tame the Wild (politics and environment): Flight from love for fear or fight fear for love. 5.40 minutes.

Sacred Martyr (philosophy/ethics): Cross-cultured beliefs, ethics and practices in all cultures. 5.20 minutes

The part in this section where the goat and the rooster were beheaded while filming was the only moment I couldn't look at them at all. I recorded it while looking away and/or closing my eyes. Back home, I found myself that I still couldn't look so I edited that part blindly. At the show, I found myself still unable to view it and I looked away during that part. It wasn't just a screen but the experience was still as real as being there.

Philosophy (education): Love and pursuit of wisdom. Knowledge and creativity/imagination. 0.45 minute

Human Season (people): Among the institutional ideologies, a human being is the heart of all. 2 minutes.


Jolanta captures the culture of Nepal and weaves it into a philosophical and artistic narrative. The calming and soothing imagery of Nepal's landscape and ringing bells are juxtaposed against the culture shock of rituals. The artist vividly presents the expected beauty of Eastern art interrupted with the reality of religion and politics. Zone Upside Down is not just a documentary with unexpected twists, but also displays the beauty and happiness of people over little things that western society takes for granted. With a fabulous narrative combined with an artist's eye, Zone Upside Down is a compelling documentary that shows the life of Nepal, with strong messages scene after scene. -- Joachim, 2005.

"... it has a shock value." -- UofA BDes student (in reference to the Sacred Martyr part)

Related posts: Bhaktapur Art.