Who are the Heroes of our time?, 2017 onwards ..
Who are the Heroes of our time?, 2017 onwards , from the series "I Have to Feed Myself, My Family and My Country…" - Hit Man Gurung and Sheelasha Rajbhandari
Since 2017 Gurung with his partner Sheelasha Rajbhandari have been traveling across Nepal, Qatar, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Philippines for their long-term, collaborative, research project, “ Who Are The Heroes of Our Time? ”. This series plays on the notion of shifting identity and belonging by interrogating the label of ‘a migrant worker’ and ‘diaspora’ through participatory performances, visual documentation, and archival approaches.
We started our collaboration for this project during our residency in Qatar. In this participatory work, we involved Nepali migrant workers in Qatar. How do we implicitly judge or discriminate someone based on their respective jobs and appearances? We wanted to explore this question as well as the perceptions of a larger group of people to this question, to these labels and to these identities.
From 1996 to 2006, Nepal went through a People’s War, waged by the Maoists. During this time, internal and international mass migration increased exponentially. After the People’s War, continuous political conflicts and an unstable government ignited violence, chaos and uncertainty in the country. This caused a further rise in migration, especially over the past decade, to the Middle East and South-East Asia. According to the World Bank, remittance to Nepal is one of the highest in the world when compared to the share of the country’s GDP. Migration for foreign employment has become a major source of income for many Nepali households. The gross remittance is also commensurate with a third of the national GDP. Yet the government has not given serious attention to the rights of migrant laborers or developed better policies regarding their safety. Ironically, society also continues to discriminate against them. Hence the question, 'Who are the real heroes of our time?'