LASANAA: Where art isn’t just paint on a canvas
NexUs Culture Nepal on the edges of Lalitpur houses an artivist organisation, LASANAA
-   2017-11-02 | nepaltraveller.com
Ashmina Ranjit sits with us and guides us through the story of LASANAA and its counterpart NexUs Culture Nepal.
Let’s backtrack ten years ago, and examine the Nepali art scene: religion and culture dominated the paintings, sculpture and art pieces, up and coming artists were trying to break free from this stereotype which constrained them from exploring conceptual art, expressing their views on socio-political issues. AshminaRanjit along with other prominent contemporary artists took it upon themselves to create something people had never even thought about; an organization that runs on the idea of artivism. Artivism is a concept, a movement that allows artists to bring about change in the society on social, cultural and political levels through art, i.e. activism through art.
With only an idea to run with and little resources, LASANAA was established in 2007, deriving its name from Newari, a language indigenous to Kathmandu Valley. In Newari or Nepal Bhasa, LASANAA translates to art, or mood. The organization has used the idea of artivism to change the dynamics of the Nepali art scene. When asked about their impact and influence on Nepali artists, Ashmina tells us that before LASANAA came about, many artists were suppressed, especially women in what they were to express through their creations. However, after its inception, the organization has been able to hold different workshops, discussions, exhibitions and other activities which have successfully involved international and local artists to bridge the existing gap between art and society.
As an alternative art space that emphasizes conceptual art and collaboration, LASANAA can run anywhere; the physicality is of less importance. But, as the organization grew, the resources available remained limited, says Ashmina. The organization’s activities started to demand a physical space and NexUs was born in 2015. NexUs Culture Nepal is a lot of things, from an art book café to an event ground; it combines a lot of perspectives into one.
Stemming from the idea of self-sustainability, everything at NexUs, from the chairs and table to the cutlery and decorations, is made through creative recycling. In collaboration with art students from Kathmandu University School of Arts, NexUs built the entire décor from the junkyard and unused furniture pieces.
As a cultural hub, NexUs is the centre for many events that allow people different walks of life to come together in the name of art. Every other Tuesday, Open Mic Nights are held in the premises of NexUs in Bakhundole, near the Norwegian Embassy. These open Mic nights give emerging poets, musicians, singers, comedians a chance to establish themselves in the spotlight; the sessions also invite feature artists to set the stage and bring out the best performances to light. Other popular events include Film Screenings, Book Readings, Art Talks and exhibitions.
In addition to that, NexUs houses one of the most interesting programs they have to offer; the artist residency program. Every year NexUs hosts foreign artists for a period one months, three months or six months and then offers two Nepali artists fellowships through a selective application process. For most upcoming artists, this sort of collaborative program can reallyhelp build their own style through first hand experiences. During their time here, they’ll get to interact with Nepal’s most dynamic, artistic talents and engage with writers, journalists, poets, anthropologists, everyone with an eye for art. Four months into her residency, Kate Mcelroysays “I chose Nepal because I thought I could immerse in the culture easily and stay in one place for a long time to experience the culture.”
Talking about the future, Ashmina, the co-founder of NexUs, plans to expand their artist residency program to an artist village and run creative art camps for the disadvantaged. The cultural hub hopes to be the place of choice for artists, writers, poets, journalists, musicians and many more to gather creatively, think creatively, collaborate, create meaning and heal.
For more information:
Nexus Culture Nepal / LASANAA
Bakhundole, Patan 44600, Nepal
Contact: +977 1-5522393
Opening hours: 10AM–8PM