Just after the one of the biggest art congregations in Nepal ever to be hosted, we interview the curator Sheelasha Rajbhandari for a look back at the one-month on the momentous event of Kathmandu Triennale 2077
Kathmandu Triennale 2077 was the largest art exhibition to be hosted in Nepal. With Cosmin Costinas as Artistic Director and Sheelasha Rajbhandari and Hit Man Gurung as the curators of KT 2077, the fourth edition of the Kathmandu Triennale goes big with hosting over 300 art pieces from over 100 artists in five locations. KT 2077 was hosted in Patan Museum, a UNESCO world heritage site and former royal residence of the Malla dynasty; the 18th-century Bahadur Shah Baithak school; Nepal Art Council; the recently restored Taragaon Museum, renowned as one of Nepal's first modernist buildings; and Siddhartha Art Gallery. Now, right after the conclusion of KT 2077, we interview the curator Sheelasha for a look back at the one-month on the momentous event of Kathmandu
What was the challenges and any complications that you were facing during KT 2077?
I think the major challenges was the COVID-19 pandemic. You can imagine how conducting an art exhibition in the middle of the pandemic would be very dangerous. We had to delay the entire art exhibition for two years when the pandemic finally subsided enough for us to host the event clearly. In response to this, we did the digital opening in February but I think that detracted from the other plans we had for the digital aspect we had planned. Aside from the pandemic, we had 2 art pieces that were unable to be bought to the event due to complications. But the COVID-19 pandemic was the source of the most of our problems.
What was the impetus behind the KT 2077's promotion of indigenous, local and unorthodox art styles?
In my opinion, there are two aspects to the Kathmandu Triennale's theme. One is the Eurocentrism in the global art industry. Due to much cultural capital and significance of Western culture in global culture especially in the internet, many indigenous artforms have been ignored and have not been recognized. KT 2077 hope to shine a light at those unorthodox artforms and art styles that people might be unaware about. Another aspect to this is that especially in South Asian countries, there is usually a bias towards the majority people and artstyles of minorities and small communities of people usually gets drowned out. Keeping this aspect in mind, we changed the name of our event from "Kathmandu Triennale 2020" to Kathmandu Triennale 2077" since 2020 is the year from the Gregorian Calendar and in order to show the shift to more indigenous approach to change it to the year in the Nepal Sambat.
Do you think KT 2077 was a success in your eyes?
I do not like to see the events and other tasks as successes and failures. But even after the challenges we have faced due to the pandemic and the logistical considerations that needed to be taken to host such a massive event in Nepal, seeing people get intrigued and see avid curiosity in their eyes just warms my heart. Just the other day, I heard that one of our five venues, the Patan Museum received about 900 visitors in just a day. I think that if an aspiring artist or anyone interested gets to know more about the world of creative expression and the unique ways you can portray anything you want, I think I'll be happy to call this event a success.
Text By: Samyak Dhar Tuladhar
Photos by: Bidyash Dangol