The Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF), Kathmandu, Nepal, and S.M.AK. (the Museum of Contemporary Art, Gent, Belgium) with support from the Saraf Foundation announces the inaugural edition of the Kathmandu Triennale (KT 2017), which opens on 24 March 2017.
KT 2017 will be curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, artistic director of S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium). The exhibition My City, My Studio / My City, My Life will host approximately 70 artists from about 25 countries. The theme of the Triennale will be a catalyst for a contemporary reflection on the relationship between art, the city and its heritage. The exhibition is dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the earthquake that hit Central Nepal on 25 April 2015.
The title of the Kathmandu Triennale My City, My Studio / My City, My Life reflects the strong and complex interaction between art and life in this city. The studio, as the symbolic locus for the artistic practice, is exchanged for the city. The city as a platform and working ground for artists, the context in which most artistic practices are rooted. If one looks at the art history of the last few centuries, one sees that avant-garde movements or artistic innovations have always taken place in cities. Capital cities seem to be the significant context for change. This is not only true for art, but also most social, political, and cultural changes are related to the hive that is the city. In Nepal, Kathmandu also occupies a specific position in these aspects. If one only considers the population growth of the last 15 years – the population almost doubled to about 1,200,000, it becomes clear that this city has undergone drastic changes. Let’s forget about the stereotypical nostalgic idea of when Kathmandu was a hub for hippies and the like. Today, Kathmandu is a city where the challenges of tradition and modernity meet. Through the heavy pollution and dense traffic of this wonderful city, one still finds plenty of moments where ancient traditions (religious and other) organize life. The city of Kathmandu is an exceptional and inspiring research station where artists from Nepal and other countries can develop their work independent of the burden of the art world. For artists in this city the art world – as most know it – is replaced by life or, for many of the inhabitants, even by survival. The exhibition therefore articulates the multiple and complex interrelations between the artist and his practice and the city as a metaphor for life. Kathmandu as a framework, as a piece of chequered paper to which the artists contribute, add visions and ideas to complement the organic growth of the city.
Some artists directly address the notion of the city, reflecting elements of urbanism and architecture in their work. Others reflect on the city as a social organization, a living and changing organism built by people of different social and cultural backgrounds. In each case, elements of the city of Kathmandu are taken as building bricks for the artistic creations.
Whatever stance the artists take, they all respond immediately to the context of Kathmandu. The choice has been made to bring as many as possible of the participating artists to Kathmandu itself. The experience of the city stimulates them to respond in a direct, fragile, and sincere way. Moving between the city and the studio, the first Kathmandu Triennale is a tribute to the city and the artist.
For months prior to the opening, different organizations and collectives have been working on a full-scale outreach programme to children and youngsters at schools in Kathmandu. The exhibition and the participating artists have been the starting point for numerous workshops and encounters. Thanks to these efforts, about 1500 children have taken part in workshops related to art and the city.
Most artists were invited to create newly commissioned works for the specific contexts of the 4 main exhibition venues:
Patan Museum: the ancient royal palace of the Malla Kings of Lalitpur is a building in the typical Newa architecture, now a museum where this unique architecture houses a collection of religious objects made in the traditional local crafts.
Siddhartha Arts Gallery: founded by Sangeeta Thapa and Shashikala Tiwari in 1987. The gallery’s major goal is to show Nepali contemporary artists in an international framework. Sangeeta Thapa is also chairperson of the Kathmandu Triennale.
Taragaon Museum: one of the first modernist yet contemporary architectural structures in Nepal. Designed by the Austrian architect Carl Pruscha, the building project was initiated by a group of women to operate as a hostel for foreigners. Many of them who settled here still recall this area as a “Star-Village” or Tara Gaon. The museum was opened to the public in April 2014. It exhibits ethnographic photography, architectural drawings of Nepal’s heritage, maps, old landscapes, urban sketches, drawings, and etching.
Nepal Art Council: Nepal’s official exhibition space for contemporary art. The large and splendid building lends itself to a wide variety of exhibitions. Nepali Art Council was established in 1962 as a national institution, with the prime objective of promoting the art and artists of Nepal. The current building was inaugurated in 1991.
In addition to this central exhibition, KT 2017 is hosting Curated Showcases or independent exhibitions by institutional and individual partners from Qatar, Bangladesh, UK, Finland, Poland, and Australia. The programme includes series of pre-event ‘encounters’ such as workshops, master-classes, and other means of educational outreach.
The Siddhartha Arts Foundation takes pride in announcing that Francis Alÿs has consented to be the Patron Artist for the inaugural edition of the Kathmandu Triennale.
Artists participating in The City, My Studio / The City, My Life are:
Alice Fox, Amrit Karki, Ang Tshering Sherpa, Anno Dijkstra, Ashmina Ranjit, Bart Lodewijks, Belu Simion Fainaru, Birendra Pratap Singh, Bhuwan Thapa, Bidhata KC, Bikash Shrestha, Cai Guo-Qiang, Carole Vanderlinden, Ciprian Muresan, Diana Tamane, Francis Alÿs, Gery De Smet, Heide Hinrichs, Henk Visch, Hitman Gurung, Honoré d’O, Javier Tellez, Jorge Macchi, Jupiter Pradhan, Kader Attia, Kailash K Shrestha, Karan Shrestha, Kasper Bosmans, Kiran Maharjan, Kunjan Krishna, Laxman Bazra Lama, Laxman Karmacharya, Lee Kit, Leonardiansyah Allenda, Leyla Aydoslu, Lida Abdul, Loïs Weinberger, Mahbubur Rahman, Majd Abdel Hamid, Manish Lal Shrestha, Martin Travers, Masae Suzuki, Massimo Bartolini, Mekh Limbu, Michael Ross, Mithu Sen, Nedko Solakov, Oscar Murillo, Paulo Climachauska, Peter Downsbrough, Pratima Thakali, Prithvi Shrestha, Ricardo Brey, Roman Ondak, Ronny Delrue, S.C. Suman, Salam Atta Sabri, Sanjeev Maharjan, Saurganga Darshandhari, Setsu Suzuki, Sheelasha Rajbhandari, Shilpa Gupta, Song Dong, Sujan Chitrakar, Sujan Dangol, Sunita Maharjan, Surasi Kusolwong, Tayeba Begum Lipi, Tushikur Rahman, Waseem Ahmed and Youdhister Maharjan.
The exhibition takes place from March 24 to 9 April 2017. For more information about the exhibition and the ambassador program or inquiries about the event: kt.artmandu.org