"We are in war without enemy” (title after Doctors without Borders)
from the series “This is My Home, My Land and My Country…” - Hit Man Gurung
(Exhibition curated by Bose Krishnamachari)
On 25 April, 2015 Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. For weeks, several aftershocks followed the first quake. And on 12 May, another 7.3 magnitude occurred which horribly damaged the central part of the country. It was the worst natural disaster to have hit Nepal in recent history. The combined death toll was close to 9,000; more than 21,000 were injured and over 2.8 million people were displaced. Many monuments, heritage sites and thousands of houses were destroyed in many districts of the country. In some places, specially around the epicenter, entire villages got flattened.
The Government of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal raised $4.1 billion as relief and rebuilding funds. But more than a year after the earthquake, thousands of families are living in terrible conditions inside temporary shelters. The process of reconstruction and resettlement from the government's side have been slow and disorganized. Because of this earthquake, the pre-existing dismal livelihoods of Nepal’s poorest and most marginalized have worsened. Because of Nepal’s difficult topography - the high hills and mountains - hundreds have died of cold, floods and landslide due to their precarious living situations.
"We are in war without enemies...I" is from the series "This is My Home, My Land and My Country...". This work is dedicated to the earthquake survivors who lost their homes and beloved ones in the 2015 earthquake. In the artwork, the person with a bandaged face is carrying damaged photographs of his house. He represents the victims and those that suffered immensely. The photograph is the only remaining memory of his house. Furthermore, photographs can be an evidence, proof that his home existed. With that evidence as well as other documents, he can claim a small relief fund which the government is supposed to provide. Sadly, the relief fund is not easily accessible to those who do not have political reach. The bandage on the man's face represents his vulnerability, powerlessness and voicelessness. On the background, there are multiple stapled pictures of earthquake-affected landscape. There are images of collapsed houses, injured people, destroyed heritage sites, rescue workers, children who are escaping, etc. The photographs of those images were taken by the artist and his friends; some pictures were downloaded from the internet.
This work is a critical commentary on Nepal government’s hypocritical behavior as well as of those involved in the rebuilding and resettlement process.
Seventy-three artists were selected from 34 countries for the first Yinchuan Biennale of Contemporary Art in 2016.