NEPAL ART NOW : NEPALESE CONTEMPORARY ART
APRIL 11- NOVEMBER 24, 2019, WELTMUSEUM WIEN HELDENPLATZ 1010 VIENNA, AUSTRIA
'We are in war without enemies', 2016 ( titled after Doctors without borders),
from the series "This is My Home, My Land and My Country…"- HIT MAN GURUNG
Medium: Stippling drawing on printed canvas, acrylic on canvas.
The work is in four panels.
The size of each panel is:
L: 239 cm
B: 90 cm
H: 5 cm
And the final dimension and size of the artwork: L: 239 cm, B:360 cm, H: 5 cm
This work was exhibited at 1st Yinchuan Biennale ‘For an image faster than light’ curated by Bose Krishnamachari MOCA Yinchuan, China.
On 25 April, 2015 Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. For weeks, several aftershocks followed and on 12 May, another 7.3 magnitude earthquake horribly damaged the central region of the country. The combined death toll was close to 9,000; more than 21,000 were injured; many monuments, heritage sites and thousands of houses were destroyed. The Government of Nepal raised $ 4.1 billion for relief and rebuilding, but more than a year after the earthquake, thousands of families still lived in terrible conditions inside temporary shelters. The earthquake has exacerbated the dismal livelihoods of Nepal’s poorest and most marginalized.
In the artwork, the individual with the bandaged face carries photographs of his damaged home. The photograph is the only remaining memory of his house, it furthermore acts as evidence to file for relief claims from the government. Sadly, the funds are not easily accessible to those without political reach. The background is stapled with multiple images of earthquake affected landscapes; some houses have collapsed, there are injured people, heritage sites reduced to rubbles, and others trying to escape the chaos. These photographs were taken by the artist and his friends, some are from the internet. This work comments on the Government of Nepal’s hypocritical behavior in the process of post-earthquake rebuilding and resettlement process.
‘The Revolutionary Dreams’ 2018- Hit Man Gurung
From the series “I Have to Feed Myself, My Family and My Country”
Medium: Acrylic on canvas
Dimension: 20.32 cm / 30.48 cm
‘The Revolutionary Dreams’ addresses the ironic realties of society in present day Nepal. This painting 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 painting, 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.
‘Agony of The New Bed’ 2017- Sheelasha Rajbhandari
Medium : Imitation gold leaf, Digital print on linen cotton textile, embroidery thread, metal thread, glass beads, wood.
Dimension : 31.5 cm / 21.5 cm / 16.5 cm (each), 32 pieces.
Sheelasha’s art work ‘Agony of The New Bed’ underscores the familiar yet overlooked reality of gender discrimination within the constructs of marriage. In Nepal’s Hindu arranged marriages, girls and women are treated as chattel, their ownership transferred from their father to their husband. Brides are socially compelled to adopt their husband’s identity and home; in this new space, they are at risk of domestic and sexual violence. Unfortunately, the agency of girls and women is stifled to such a degree that many are left helpless, some are even muzzled in cases of marital rape. And this silence and trauma percolates from generation to generation.
"Silent Portraits from Doha, Qatar" 2017 (Nepalese Migrant Workers) - Mekh Limbu
Medium: Video Installation
Dimension: 13:21 minutes, 1920X1080p HD
Mekh Limbu "Silent Portraits from Doha, Qatar ", is a video portrait that reveals the increasing influx in migrant workers of contemporary Nepalese Culture. The 19 individuals are from the different Labour camps of Doha whom I met during my visit to Qatar in 2017 including my father who is working in Qatar for more than twenty years now. The video has come out after listening to the unfortunate journey of the migrant labourers which is dangerous and are exposed to bribery, corruption and even violence at every stage from home to Doha.
The emerging cities in the Gulf are largely built by the migrant workers largely from South Asia. In many cities the number of migrant workers is so high that the native citizens account for ten percent to fifteen percent. There are more than 4.5 million Nepali Migrant workers. Agents recruit people in the village offering salaries $200 to $250 per month. Aspiring Migrant workers in Nepal first travel by bus to Kathmandu, the capital of the country, recruiting agents demand the fee as high as $1,100 while the government limit is $400. Most of the selected migrants don’t know about the contract yet. They have to participate in a pre-departure orientation class about their designation. They also have to purchase air tickets and submit their passport for visa processing. The actual salary offer is less than $55 per month in most cases.
The workers have spent so much by this stage that they must go. Once in their destination country, conditions often worsen. They live in labor camps with rare contact with the local citizens. They are required to work as much as 12 hours for 6-7 days per week. Most of the labor camps are on the edge of the cities away from “Family Zone” designated sites. Of the one thousand deaths in Qatar four hundred were from Nepal at the various construction sites in 2016.
Every individual is staged in a white background in a melancholic sound that directly looks into the eyes of the viewers revealing their painful journey, exploitation of migrant workers, corrupt and misleading practice of labor recruiters, growing economic class division and a forlorn hope.