Built / Unbuilt : Home/City – kathmandu triennale


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Built / Unbuilt : Home/City

Curated by Dina Bangdel

Exhibition Opening: March 26 at 5pm

Venue: CALM, Tangalwood

The exhibition will be inaugurated by His Excellency Yousef bin Mohammed Al Hail, Ambassador of Qatar

Special guest of honor: Distinguished Qatari artist Yousef Ahmed

This curatorial project responds to the theme of the first Kathmandu Triennale “Curated Showcase” on CITY and the urban landscape. My longstanding interest in the built heritage and the dynamics of the urban landscape and the agency of the community have been central to my research, and has in this project combined both the curatorial intent within a strong research-­‐based intervention. Notion that the city can be seen as an instigator and catalyst for creative narratives is at the core of this interdisciplinary focus. The experience is mediated through the voices/lenses of the diaspora Nepalis living in Doha to explore these spaces of liminality within the city. How do these communities express narratives of home, belonging, and self within the city? How do artistic expression/entanglements serve to ‘create communities’ within the urban fabric? Artists will then create a body of work that will respond to these transcultural intersections, the lived histories and memories, and narratives of Doha’s past histories.

The practices of the six artists that I have selected for this collaborative project complement the exploration of two cities: Doha and Kathmandu, with the notion of city serving as the catalyst for dialogue. The city of Doha has historically been a rich palimpsest of cultures—particularly those of South Asia—and the focus of this research-­‐based curatorial project will be on the ways in which artists experiences and identities will touch upon multivalent narratives, story-­‐telling, and orality.

Curatorial Background

While my research, writings, and curatorial practices on contemporary South Asian artists have explored contestations of identity, nostalgia, and the diasporic gaze, three key aspects of my research has more recently taken center stage in the last two years: the built heritage, city, and the politics of reconstructions. In 2015, a 7.9 Richter earthquake in Nepal killed 9000, left more 22,000 injured, 130,000 homes destroyed; 85,000 homes damaged, and a total of 8 million affected—nearly a third of the population, with more than 600,000 displaced. In the city of Kathmandu, more than 50% of the historical monuments, including 33 monuments of the World Heritage Sites were destroyed, and the urban landscape has been obliterated by natural disaster. My current research in the aftermath has dealt with narratives of post-­‐disaster recover in the ways in which the built heritage becomes the locus for a collective memory to emerge. In this, I specifically focused my research on artists’ collaborative initiatives with communities where more than 250 homes were destroyed—this collaborative project between artists and the local community resulted in one of the most powerful narrative of healing—through a discourse of home, community and belonging. Through a series of creative interventions and collaborative workshops with the community, they collective transformed that space through dialogue recreating memories of place and belonging; art became a powerful tool to heal. After the earthquake, the nation faced a critical realization that reconstruction efforts would be slow, as millions of young men have already left Nepal, with many working as construction workers in the Gulf. There is a push now by the government to entice these workers to come back to Nepal to rebuild the country.

Qatar/Doha plays a critical part in this narrative of nation-­‐building for both Qatar and Nepal. Qatar has the highest number of Nepali migrant workers, approximately 500,000 who have made Doha their ‘home’. This project therefore seeks to find the narratives of belonging, memory and self within a palimpsest of narratives—centered around the city and its unbuilt or rebuilt spaces. By bringing together Nepali artists and Doha-­‐based artists in dialogue with the local communities with the city as catalyst, the aims are to examine the layers of narratives that emerge within the lived space.

Curatorial Outcomes/Concept Work: Video installation / photography / painting

Nepali Artists: Hit Man GurungMekh Limbu, and Sheelasha Rajbhandari

Doha- based ArtistsCarolina Aranibar-­‐Fernandez (Bolivia), Emelina Soares (India), Abdulla AlKuwari (Qatar)

Performance by Sunil Sigdel

Doha-based Collaborative Arts Project with Artists/Migrant Workers

Book Launch: Breaking Views. Engaging Art in Post-Earthquake Nepal

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