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Artmandu


SALLY ACHARYA


With barely a week remaining for the Kathmandu International Art Festival, the excitement is palpable among artists from 31 countries who have just touched down in Nepal. What started off as a 12-day exhibit in October 2009 is back this year on 25 November as a month-long, city-wide showcase of eclectic work chosen by international jurors.

"Nepal is one of the most exciting destinations for contemporary art because we have such a rich heritage. We want to promote Nepal as a centre for the arts and hosting a world-class festival is a step in the right direction," explains Sangeeta Thapa, director of the festival.

Modelled after major league festivals like the Venice Biennale and the Sao Paulo Biennial, the Nepali edition will see top international and local artists collaborating on this year's theme of 'Earth/Body/Mind' and transcending cultural boundaries. There will be installations that fill entire rooms, exhibits in stunning traditional spaces such as Mul Chok at Patan Darbar square, and even a multimedia piece projected onto the Bouddhanath Stupa.

Kathmandu International Art Festival
25 November to 21 December
www.artmandu.org
01-4438979

LEANG SECKON, Cambodia

Visitors at the Jawalakhel Zoo will be startled to spot a mythical water creature as long as three elephants. Earlier installed along Cambodia's Siem Reap River, the serpentine giant is made of rattan, recycled plastic, nylon fishing line, and electric lighting and is an updated, recycling-conscious cousin of the legendary naga that, in Cambodia as well as in Nepal, took on a variety of heavenly responsibilities, from forming a couch for Vishnu to sheltering Buddha.

TAKEHITO SHIINA, Japan

Science fiction meets magic in this quirky document of an artist's effort to become a plant. "What would happen,"asks Shiina, "if people could photosynthesise? What would it mean for the economy, natural resources, and human relations?" This oddball question is now a multi-media project that highlights, in often unsettling ways, the place of the human body in nature and the interplay between bodily existence and spiritual feelings. Watch Shiina's documentary at Mul Chok in Patan Darbar Square.

NOMAD WAVE GROUP, Mongolia

Linked by long sleeves in a striking visual statement of interconnection, Nomad entwines the legacy of its nomadic past and communal dance with the earth. Comprising four visual artists and a designer, the group blends the sensibilities of Mongolian nomads with the concerns and aesthetics of the modern world.

4pm, 25 November at Nag Bahal
10.30am, 26 November at the Summit Hotel

MAUREEN BISILLIAT, Brazil

For much of her 81 years, Bisilliat has roamed the Amazon rainforest, camera in hand, recording the faces, lives, and folkways of the indigenous people of her adopted country. Born in the UK, but considered daughter of Brazil, she has created photographs of lasting poetic power that have also been instrumental in the struggle for indigenous rights. Her work can be seen at Siddhartha Art Gallery at Babar Mahal Revisited.

SHEBA CHHACCHI, India

The story is familiar to Hindus: once upon a time, gods and demons came together to churn the cosmic ocean, forcing it to yield a desired potion, but almost destroying the world in the process. Chhacchi asks us to think more deeply about this ancient tale of greed and hidden danger in which even gods can be short-sighted. A highly regarded installation artist and activist, and one of several groundbreaking artists from India in the festival, Chhacchi will install her piece at the Patan Museum.

LOK CHITRAKAR, Nepal

At first glance, it's surprising to see a traditional paubha painter in a contemporary art exhibit. But Chitrakar, one of the world's leading practitioners of this traditional art form, paints with a fluid abstraction, visionary punch, and philosophical rigour that defies the boundaries between 'contemporary' and 'traditional'. His work will be displayed amid the brilliant Newar architecture of Mul Chok.

JANET CARDIFF and GEORGE BURES MILLER, Canada

These artists don't paint pictures to hang over the sofa. They create soundscapes, intense and disorienting and dreamlike, loaded onto iPods that visitors can sign out and experience. Visit the National Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) to see how this very 21st century piece interacts with an old Rana palace.

GOPAL DAS SHRESTHA 'KALAPREMI', Nepal

Starting on 22 November, Thursday, viewers can watch award-winning ceramist Kalapremi as he creates 108 'people being cooked and sold' (pakdai bikdai gayeko mancheharu), a sacred number of clay figures, all unique and connected to the earth. He'll work in public until 26 November at Bhrikuti Mandap. The finished work will be on display at the Nepal Art Council.

HITMAN GURUNG, Nepal

Ah, the face mask: an iconic symbol of today's Kathmandu. Gurung's portraits of real people from all walks of life, all trapped behind face masks, raise a timely question: is this how we handle the problems we've made? Do we just stifle ourselves and go on our way? His work will be up at the Nepal Art Council.

SHAHIDUL ALAM, Bangladesh

For four years, the prolific photographer, writer, and National Geographic Advisory Board member charted the epic course of one of the world's great rivers, the Brahmaputra, seeking its glacial source in Tibet and following it down through its numerous transformations, from glacial trickle to overfished delta, until it spills into the Bay of Bengal. What he found about the power of nature and culture, and the way life and nature are changing can be seen at the Patan Museum.

See also:
Movement caused by existence. Nomad Wave Group

Sheba Chhacchi

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller

Complete list of artists



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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