52 Artists 52 Actions
MAY 17- AUG 8, 2019, ARTSPACESYDNEY, AUSTRALIA
"The Revolutionary Dreams"
From the series “I Have to Feed Myself, My Family and My Country”
Artist: Hit Man Gurung
Medium: Performative Photography
Contributing‘ Photographer: Sachin Yogal Shrestha
Accompanied by : Sheelasha Rajbhandari, Bikash Shrestha
‘The Revolutionary Dreams’ addresses the ironic realties of society in present day Nepal. This series of performative photography draws on the memories associated with my birthplace, Najare; and the dramatic changes encountered during my recent visit to the area after being away for 19 years.
Internal and external conflicts such as the continual political instability, a ten-year-long Maoist insurgency, as well as global capitalist forces have fundamentally altered the social fabric of villages in developing countries like Nepal. Carrying aspirations for a better future, each day up to 2,000 Nepalis leave the country to join a cheap international labour force, mostly in the Middle East and Malaysia. Simultaneously, internal migration has translocated people from villages to small towns and small towns to cities. Villages are emptying and rapidly losing their societal structures. Places like Najare have been deserted, and the farms left barren, the elderly caretakers watch silently as most able-bodied members of their families leave one by one.
In this series, I took on the role of various characters from my memory. I wore the clothes and traditional costumes borrowed from my village. I also took on the uniforms of Nepali migrant workers. I then juxtaposed these two images of past and present on a single frame to narrate and depict contradictory realities.
1. a person had joined the People’s Liberation Army with dreams and hopes that the revolution would bring change to problematic social, cultural and economical systems. This sky–these houses made of mud, stone, wood, orange and white clay–are all still the same…Only that person is missing. And his dreams have disappeared along with his sweat in the heat of the deserts …
2. …during festivals and especially on [the lunar new year] Lhosar we used to get dressed in our cultural attire with pomp and circumstance...
3. … my father was always proud to tell us that we used to have 300 sheep, 150 cows and many buffalos … Each fall the cattle were brought down to our village from the highlands. It was the happiest of times for the children, they would run to play with the lambs, the mastiffs, and enjoy the warm milk cows…All these memories are but a dream–a folktale…
4. … my cousin brothers had built this primary school on the bottom of our village following the National Dream. I still remember the children fighting, running around and shouting so loud that the hills and forest could hear them … those rough and crooked benches, they look the same. The walls had some new posters, there was one with a faded national flag, but now the entire school only has 5 or 6 kids, there is no noise—only silence …
5. …The Chorten has seen many watery eyes say goodbye,
oh how many foreheads with white tikas have passed its boundary?
It has bid adieu to hopeful smiles,
and welcomed how many with an empty suitcase and a broken heart?
Aamas and Babas have withered beside it,
and how many lovers, with their fear and hopes, has this Chorten witnessed?
6. … one of the changes I observed was that the villagers started to harvest black cardamom from the community forest. They were excited to share how much they earned in the last season. The initiative is entirely led by women, everybody has to contribute equally for the labour, and earnings were equally distributed, a true inspiration… but I missed those longing love songs, duets echoing across the forest. This time only mild melodies were whistled…
7. …Shree Jana Jyoti Secondary School is the oldest, and was once the only, secondary school of Baglungpani VDC. Hundreds of students from a cluster of six to seven villages walked miles to pursue their education there …