After the Tourists Depart
Visual Postmortem of a New Tourist Destination
Keywords:tourism, Ladakh, trash, consumer culture
This essay explores multiple aspects of a domestic tourism boom that has occurred in Ladakh, India, over the past two decades. It considers the nature of tourism itself within the context of leisure as a commodity and how visual interventions and photographic practices brand a tourist destination as a consumable idea, making a case for the inseparability of image and destination and arguing that the constructed image of a destination attracts a collective gaze. This perspective is then applied to the consumerist trajectory/ tragedy of Ladakh, which since the economic liberalization of India has been visually negotiated through imageries of the area as a destination for adventure and exotica. This experience is enacted through the consumerist practices of packaged tourism, and through a visual exploration of material remains—the paper documents material leftovers discarded by tourists.
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