24th March 2017
Inaugural Kathmandu Triennale puts Nepal on the global art map

Kathmandu Triennale 2017 opened today, 24 March at the Hyatt Regency’s Ballroom, Kathmandu. Presented by the Siddhartha Arts Foundation (SAF), Kathmandu, Nepal, and curated by Philippe Van Cauteren, artistic director of S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art, Ghent, Belgium), the ceremony began with a short film by Kishror Kayastha called Shifting Valley which brought home the horrors of the earthquake, that turned the once bustling and energetic Kathmandu to a ghost of a city replete with destruction.

The title of the Kathmandu Triennale My City, My Studio / My City, My Life reflects the strong and complex interaction between art and life in this city. The studio, as the symbolic locus for the artistic practice, is exchanged for the city. The city as a platform and working ground for artists, the context in which most artistic practices are rooted. If one looks at the art history of the last few centuries, one sees that avant-garde movements or artistic innovations have always taken place in cities. Capital cities seem to be the significant context for change. This is not only true for art, but also most social, political, and cultural changes are related to the hive that is the city. In Nepal, Kathmandu also occupies a specific position in these aspects. If one only considers the population growth of the last 15 years – the population almost doubled to about 1,200,000, it becomes clear that this city has undergone drastic changes. Let’s forget about the stereotypical nostalgic idea of when Kathmandu was a hub for hippies and the like. Today, Kathmandu is a city where the challenges of tradition and modernity meet. Through the heavy pollution and dense traffic of this wonderful city, one still finds plenty of moments where ancient traditions (religious and other) organize life. The city of Kathmandu is an exceptional and inspiring research station where artists from Nepal and other countries can develop their work independent of the burden of the art world. For artists in this city the art world – as most know it – is replaced by life or, for many of the inhabitants, even by survival. The exhibition therefore articulates the multiple and complex interrelations between the artist and his practice and the city as a metaphor for life. Kathmandu as a framework, as a piece of chequered paper to which the artists contribute, add visions and ideas to complement the organic growth of the city.

KT 2017 hosts approximately 70 artists from about 25 countries, and the exhibition is dedicated to the people who lost their lives in the earthquake that hit Central Nepal on 25 April 2015.

The opening ceremony was attended by eminent personalities like the Ambassador of the European Union, Rensje Tserink, the Ambassador of Bangladesh, the Chancellor of the Nepal Academy, Ragini Upadhya, and a range of patrons of the arts, artists, sponsors and members of the national and international media.

The Kathmandu Triennale takes place from March 24 to 9 April 2017. For further information see kt.artmandu.org

Image: Kathmandu by Jorge Macchi