An interview with
Position & Affiliation: Independent Photographer and Professor of Physics, Cologne University of Applied Science
Date: November 20, 2018 in Cologne, Germany
Interviewed by: Anna Sehnalova
Cite this archive
- 0:00 Intro
- 00:55 Where and when you were born and how did you grow up?
- 06:28 What did you like to photograph?
- 09:27 So then you moved to Prague after finishing high school, what happened in Prague?
- 18:19 What did you find interesting in studying theoretical physics?
- 20:37 What did you like about photography so much, over the visual dimensions of physics?
- 24:16 Then you started teaching in Cologne, how did this happen?
- 31:26 How was it coming to a new country?
- 22:01 How did it continue?
- 35:03 How was it to be a professor? Did you like teaching?
- 38:10 You also mentioned you went to Africa in 1971–72, how do you remember this trip?
- 40:44 What does it mean that your life is in Asia?
- 41:49 You came to Asia via Africa and Yemen?
- 46:19 Then after Yemen, you went to Asia?
- 51:13 When did you return to the east the next time?
- 56:11 Was it your first time in India?
- 1:01:26 You must have been one of the first foreigners on the route?
- 1:03:21 What did you like about photographing and documenting these festivals?
- 1:00:28 Why did you find the visual part of a culture so interesting?
- 1:06:34 How did you come to Ladakh after Kashmir?
- 1:09:43 How was Kargil at this time?
- 1:12:05 Why is Ladakh so interesting to you that you keep returning?
- 1:17:54 You started a career as a professor and photographer. What about your first exhibition of photography?
- 1:22:23 When we talk about your initial years as a photographer, what camera did you use when you went to Africa, to Germany?
- 1:26:39 In Ladakh, you came to work on Alchi. How did you come to work on it? How did the book about it come about?
- 1:31:28 Can you remind me of the book that was published with Anthony Aris?
- 1:38:13 How do you remember Anthony and Michael Aris?
- 1:39:53 Could you say more about the “Save Alchi” project?
- 1:45:19 And you also worked at many other monasteries in the Himalayas?
- 1:47:15 What did you like about these places, Tabo and Toling?
- 1:50:57 You also made several trips to Tibet when you made some visits to central or eastern Tibet, in 1985?
- 1:55:24 How did you remember your encounter with Khyentse Rinpoche?
- 1:59:20 How do you remember Tibet from the 1980s?
- 2:11:54 Of the many books you made on Tibet and the Himalayas, what is your favourite if there is one?
- 2:13:13 In the 1980s, you also began your work in Burma. Were you in touch with the Aris family?
- 2:22:32 Can you tell a bit about your work in Angkor, how did it start? How did you work with Anthony Aris?
- 2:35:59 You also worked together with the first president, Václav Havel, for an exhibition?
- 2:52:53 Could you say more about how you’ve assisted other visits of His Holiness in Europe and your work as a photographer of His Holiness?
- 2:59:21 After working in so many places in the world, do you have a favourite?
- 3:01:47 You also film, what was your initial dream?
- 3:07:27 How is it different to be a film maker and a photographer?
- 3:09:00 Can you speak about your work in Afghanistan which is part of your more recent work?
- 3:14:44 Do you like to revisit the places you visited long time ago? Do you like to see the changes?
- 3:17:22 What has your career given to you personally?
- 3:17:57 What was the most interesting and challenging in your work?
- 3:19:27 We are conducting this project for future and current students in Tibetan studies, do you have any advice?
Jaroslav Poncar born 1945 in Prague, has lived in Cologne since 1973 where was professor at the department of imaging sciences of Fachhochschule Köln (Cologne University of Applied Sciences). His photographic projects took him to Africa, Arabia and to Asia, especially to the Himalayas, Tibet, India, Burma, Cambodia and Afghanistan. He retired in July 2010. His main field of photography is travel photography. Until 2005 he was co-director of German Apsara Conservation Project at Angkor Wat. After his retirement in July 2010 he was in Afghanistan on one year assignment as GIZ-CIM (German International Cooperation) expert to photographicaly document the cultural heritage of the country.
In 1976 he took for the first time an panoramic camera to the Western Himalayas — the antique Russian FT‑2 — and since that time he specialized on panoramic photography. After 40 years he exposed in Rome the last Ektachrome roll in October 2016…
In October/November 2013 he had a two months scholarship in the German Academy Villa Massimo in Rome.
|1945||born in Prague and grown up in Litomerice in Northern Bohemia.|
|1962 — 1966||Technical University Prague, faculty of technical and nuclear physics.|
|1966 — 1971||Studies at RWTH Aachen (Technical University Aachen). In 1971 PhD in theoretical physics. After PhD graduation working as freelance photographer for dpa (German Press Agency) in Africa and Arabia.|
|1973 — 2010||Professor of optics at the Fachhochschule Köln (Cologne University of Applied Sciences) in the department Photoingenieurwesen (imaging sciences and media technologies) — until 2004. Presently at the institute of applied optics and electronics (AOE).|
Specialised in ´land-and-people-photography´, since 1976 panoramic photography. Divers projects in documentation of cultural relics in the Himalayas, Tibet and Cambodia in collaboration with museums, universities and other institutions.
|1977 — 1987||together with Wolfgang Kohl (cameraman and film producer) documentaries for the German TV in Yemen, Mali, India, Pakistan and Tibet.|
|1981 — 1994||photographic documentation of the wall paintings in the temples of Alchi (collaboration with Prof. Roger Goepper, Museum of East Asian Art Cologne) and organisation of the SAVE ALCHI PROJECT (conservation works in Alchi) with Prof. Karl Ludwig Dasser (Department of Restoration and Conservation of Cultural Relics at the Fachhochschule Köln|
|1984||documentation of the wall paintings in Tabo monastery, Spiti, West Himalayas (published in 1996 by Prof. Deborah Salter from the University of Vienna). In 2001 one more campaign in Tabo.|
|1993||documentation of the wall paintings in Toling, Guge, West Tibet (invitation by University of Vienna, Institute of Art History, Prof. Dr.Klimburg-Salter)|
|1993||participation in the Silk Road project of the German Research Council (Prof. Klimkeit, University Bonn), documentation of the wall paintings in Turfan etc.|
|1993 — 2005||photographic work in Angkor, Cambodia. In 1995|
documentation of the bas-reliefs in Angkor Wat and the Bayon with the slit-scan technique.
|1996 — 1998||photographic work in Mustang (Nepal) for the German Research Coucil (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), project of Niels Gutschow (1996), a private journey to Upper Mustang in 1997 and in 1998 photographic work for the American Himalayan Foundation (documentation of wall paintings in Thubchen and Chamba Lakhang in Lo Monthang). In 2010 last visit of Upper Mustang.|
|1996 — 2005||co-director (director Prof. Dr. Hans Leisen) of the German Apsara Conservation Project (GACP), responsible of photographic documentation of Angkor Wat.|
|2003||until 2007 photographic work in Burma.|
|2010||In July retirement at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences. From October 2010 for one year as GIZ-CIM (German International Cooperation) expert in Afghanistan.|
|2010 — 2011||Photographic documentation of cultural heritage in Afghanistan|
|2012||Work for Fotopedia on an app on Himalayas. Publication of books on Afghanistan and forty years of activities in the Himalayas.|
|2013||two months scholarship at Villa Massimo (German Academy) in Rome; panoramas of Lazio|
|2015 — 2017||Collaboration with Christian Luczanits (SOAS London) on documentation of religious objects in Upper Mustang (Nepal)|