Nepal's indomitable spirit in the wake of the catastrophic 2015 earthquake will manifest in the Kathmandu Triennale, that will pay tribute to the people who lost their lives in the disaster.
The over two-week-long art festival titled, "My City, My Studio / My City, My Life", that begins here today, will be a catalyst for a contemporary reflection on the relationship between art, the city and its heritage.
Organised by the city-based Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF) and SMAK (the Museum of Contemporary Art, Gent, Belgium), the triennale, curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, artistic director of SMAK, will host approximately 70 artists from about 25 countries.
"The title 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.
Noting how cities have always been the hub where avant-garde movements or artistic innovations take place, the triennale will reimagine the city as a platform and working ground for artists.
"This is also true for art, as well as most social, political, and cultural changes, which 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," organisers said.
The festival rejects the stereotypical idea of Kathmandu as a hub forhippies, and presents it as 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," organisers said.
The exhibition therefore will articulate the multiple and complex interrelations between the artist, his practice and the city as a metaphor for life.
While some artists directly address the notion of
thecity, 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 experience of the city stimulates them to respond in a direct, fragile, and sincere way. Moving between the city and the studio, the firstKathmandu Triennale is a tribute to the city and the artist," organisers said.
The festival will be held across four main exhibition venues: Patan Museum, SiddharthaArts Gallery, Taragaon Museum, and Nepal Art Council.
In addition to the central exhibition, the triennale will also host 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.