In March 2017, for the Kathmandu Triennale, five women artists will come together in collective creativity: Marie Julia Bollansée (Belgium), Monali Meher (India-the Netherlands), Alice Fox (Britain), Ashmina Ranjit (Nepal), and Ryan Elisabeth Reid (United States). The five artists will build a community founded on the idea that women are highly collaborative, intuitive, and stronger when they come together.
Ashmina Ranjit, as a Kathmandu Triennale Performance Art Curator, has invited the fourartists, as Lasanaa resident artists, to make a collective performance and lead a workshop entitled ‘Being in a Body’. The five artists from different geographical origins will have a conversation in Kathmandu, which will root the creation in individual and collaborative response to the city. The group’s performance will be based on their own experiences now, in the present, at this moment in Kathmandu. In addition, each artist is creating an individual performance for the Triennale.
The group will lead the 2-day workshop, ‘Being in a Body’, on March 29th and 30th at Nexus, for a community of Nepali performance artists. The workshop will focus on the development of concept behind a performance and the idea of being in a body in this space and time. The objective is to nurture and promote burgeoning Nepali performance artists who aren’t participating in the Triennale in other ways. A final series of performances will be shown on March 31st and April 1st based on what has been nurtured during the workshop process.
Ashmina Ranjit , Kathmandu, Nepal
When Ashmina Ranjit was young she looked at the clouds.
She looked because she wanted to be free. Her nanny told her: stop looking at the clouds, women aren’t free like clouds, it will only make you sad.
No, Ashmina said. And she kept watching, searching, hoping for that freedom.
For years, because of this, Ashmina wanted to be a pilot, so she could be among the clouds. But because she was surrounded by artists in her family, she ended up at art school. To her surprise, she liked art. She became passionate about painting. She painted the subjects that interested her the most: women.
She mastered painting and drawing. The medium wasn’t enough to express in the context of what she was searching for. She desired to move forward and be truly herself, not like the masters of the past. She was not looking for the medium, she was looking for what would truly express her voice. And on that path she explored different mediums unawaredly; installation, space, time, sound and video.
Then she added her body. When she first performed, she didn’t realize she was performing. But, there she was, within her work. Her art was activism: concerning her community, her life, her country and the world as a whole. Performances represented what was important to her: women, society, identity, enviroment and politics. And, within the social, political context of Nepal, her artivism allowed her to constantly redefine the notion of art, reposition the role of women and question human rights’ and the state.
Today, Ashmina is performing, she is leading workshops, and she is connecting community members by creating an environment for Nepali and international artists at her art hub LASANAA / Nexus. She is creating outside medium; sometimes it’s the sky she expresses in, sometimes the streets, sometimes the air.
And now, looking back, her desire to fly wasn’t physical. It was spiritual. She wanted to fly among the clouds because it is who she is and who she wants to be.
“Art should talk about our contemporary society. About women, identity, and social political issues.”
“Art is what you live in and live through. I can’t separate my life and art.”
“What we study, what we learn, and what we experience is what we become.”
“I don’t look for the medium. The concept or idea explores the medium.”
“Art is not the object, but it comes out of the object.”
“Within my Newar/Nepali context, there is no separation between life, spirituality, and artistic expression. It’s all one.”
“Being born with a womb inherently makes my experience different. Physically I feel different. In Nepal, I live within a world of patriarchy, in a context where being born as a woman, I am treated differently. My experience is different. And this influences what I create.”
“Menstruation is a natural phenomenon. If it doesn’t happen then life comes to standstill. Rather than ostracizing it, we should celebrate it.”
“I have come to realize that my personal experience is also political. It’s not just my voice, it is everyone’s voice. It’s every woman’s voice.”
“When I became myself I became free. And for me, with that freedom comes responsibility.”
“The state is dead. Men have become the state and women are stateless.”
“Every being has their space. And once one tries to step into another’s space violence begins. If we respect each other’s space, peace and harmony will be there.”
“Having knowledge is not enough. Wisdom is the most important part.”
“I live on the edge. Uncomfortable zones make me comfortable. As artists, being in the uncomfortable zones opens us to vulnerability. And we need this in order to create.”
“The competition is not with others, it is within myself. I challenge myself to move forward.”
“Money is not everything. It’s just the means…”
“It’s not looking, it’s being aware and using all your senses.”
“People ask me how long it takes to make a work of art. And I say: do you mean when I took the canvas and painted? Or when I had the concept? Or, do you mean when I had the moment that inspired the concept?”
“Terms don’t have meaning, a term is limited. What you actually do is beyond the term, what you actually experience is beyond the word.”
“The product is the coming together of all the moments spent making the work. The process is so important. How do you do what you do?”
“I want to be me. I don’t want to go back to the past or imitate.”
“What is bothering me, is what I create.”
“I am an artivist. An artist and an activist.”
– Ashmina Ranjit
Monali Meher, Mumbai, India
Since 1998 Meher’s art practice involves various disciplines. The most significant one is ‘Performance Art’. Decay, hybridization & transformation: Creating new identity; reshaping belongings; intimacy; a dialogue of matter and memory all these constitute the language of her work. “Time” as a factor, is central to her practice, whether it’s a wrapped object or a performance. She uses time as medium, which is extended, assembled and captured. The aspects of continuity, repetition, vulnerability, duration, temporality, awareness, situation and public involvement are also inherent qualities that inform her art practice.
Meher graduated in Fine Arts from Sir J. J. School of arts, Mumbai. She received ‘Unesco -Aschberg’ residency in Vienna 1998, Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten 2000-‘01, Amsterdam and ‘Casa Masaccio’ San Giovanni Valdarno, Tuscany, Italy 2012. She performed and exhibited her work internationally; at Tate modern, Sinop Biennale Turkey, Rijksmuseum Twenthe, Khoj Live New Delhi, DaDao Beijing, Art Dubai, ‘Rebelle’, MMKA Arnhem, NRLA Glasgow, bLA Amsterdam, Prague Biennale 5th, MAXXI museum Rome, Guangzhou Live 11 China, Infr’action Sete, France, LA 7 Gothenburg Sweden, IPA Istanbul modern museum, 4th Thessaloniki Biennale, University UFO &Sustainability 2014, Ghent, Belgium, Venice International experimental cinema and performance art festival, Bochum kunstmuseum Germany, ICASTICA ’13, Arezzo Biennial, Italy where she received the prestigious ‘Golden Chimera Award’ for the innovation and originality, in 2016 she performed for ‘Ritual Traces’ SAWCC NY, Beijing Live, participated in Biennale Arte Dolomiti, Italy and Dakar biennale, DAK’ART 2016.
Meher received LIVE Funds 2009 by BKVB Amsterdam. In 2011 she manifested ‘The Bridge Is Open’, public Space installation under Willem’s bridge, Haarlemmerpoort, Amsterdam; funded by Amsterdam Fonds voor de Kunst, Fonds BKVB, Co-operated by DIVV, DOCK Stadsdeel West. Since year 2000, Meher lives and works in Amsterdam NL.
I transform the manner in which materials react, what shape or smell they produce, what impact they make on my viewers and how the space around my art and audience gets transformed. This aspect of ‘conversion in character’ reflects a strong metamorphosis of my personal identity as a Diaspora artist.
I elaborate a philosophical exploration of the human, in order to point out its process of construction, through the antithetical notions of private versus collective memory, feeling of longing versus belonging, intimacy versus conflict and familiarity versus unfamiliarity. I try to merge these processes into my work, so that the viewer gets a notion of time through a process of dilation and re-connection. No matter which artistic medium I employ, I want to embody the same breath of life, while introducing the viewer to a deep, paradoxical and even intellectual reading of the world. I play with senses and time, creating luminal connections between outer tangible worlds and inner invisible ones. Most of my works are site specific and durational, they reflect the journey of my life and performances as therapeutic actions during those particular moments of my existence. Through these manifestations, I deconstruct the narratives related to them and set a new challenge for experience, understanding and research.
My art is usually time based and often reveals the process of creation. According to sites and related situations, my choices of materials differ to reveal the hybridization of various elements from both my cultures, being presently European and originally Indian.
“Time” as a factor, is central to my practice, whether it’s a wrapped object or a performance. I use time as medium, which is extended, assembled and captured. Elements of the past, understood as a quantity of time are of extreme significance. To be able to record and replay time frames and juxtapose real time with mediated time is a vital aspect of my works. My art witnesses my quest for defining the trace of time, its territory and extensions into the real world. Beyond this, I draw an ontological thought of time influencing human essence and evolution. Two different spaces interact in a self-reflecting process of transit, change and affected repetition.
My use of natural and ephemeral ingredients results in a process of perishing and transitory moment of the time. This is utter, thus unavoidable and deliberate. Such assemblages and installations are temporary structures in the time and space created within the durational act: the performance.
My performances are atmospheric, sometimes ritualistic and frequently involve props of various natures. They show the cyclical circles of destruction and renewal, as well as formal and conceptual ideas within the framework of personal references that inform the fragile division between my life and my art.
Decay, hybridization and transformation; creating new identities; reshaping belongings; intimacy; a dialogue of matter and memory – all these constitute the language of my work. Furthermore, the aspects of continuity, repetition, vulnerability, duration, temporality, awareness, situation and public involvement are also inherent qualities that inform my art practice. The process before and after the performance is equally important and challenging.
Performance by Monali Meher
Duration: approx. 60/90 mins.
Lasanaa, KTM 2017
In ‘bound/ unbound’ I extend the idea of moving from place to place; the change, transition, the transformation. The memory or the baggage we are attached to that we carry along with us or leave behind.
In this interactive performancemy body becomes vehicle and extension for carrying things. The idea of moving, tying, carrying, longing, sharing, leaving and constantly transforming in the present time and space significantly stresses upon the idea of our identity, displacement and temporality. It also touches upon the theme of the triennale ‘The City/ My Life. Through thisaction, I create a dialogue between the city of Kathmandu and myself. The sense of familiarity to my Indian origin applies another layer of dialogue.
Monali Meher’s work for the Triennale is supported by Mondriaan Foundation
Marie Julia Bollansée, Antwerp, Belgium
Marie Julia Bollansée’s work is about people, about their lives and deaths and about the quest in the no man’s land in between. Beingeducated as a classic sculptor, the physical remains a constant factor in Bollansée’s videos and performances.
Marie Julia Bollansée’s dramatic power of observation is reflected in her video work. She frequently takes the role of the observer, translating age-old human themes into images that we can all relate to. Her performances bring the everyday but often hidden forces into the light.
She is fascinated by the reactions caused by unexpected interactions and collaborations. “I try to detect the chemistry between people and to formulate this in my work so that viewers become more aware of their humanity. I want to expand the frontiers of the perceptible. I’m convinced that people urgently need to see and understand the essential, but too often invisible, motives and sources in today’s society.”
Colour is a significant element in Bollansée’s work, with blue being an overwhelming presence. Recently the artist defined her new kind of blue: ‘Tarpaulin blue’, which she identifies as a common determinator for 21st century human experience.
Her work was selected by the Jackson Pollock Foundation in 2000. It was on view at several venues in Belgium and the Netherlands, and a.o. in Moscow, Istanbul, Vladivostok, Dresden, Mumbai and Paris. Her work is in the permanent collection of M HKA, Museum Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen, and in several private collections.
NOW IS TARPAULIN BLUE
Lapis Lazuli and Indigo are the two enchanting families of blue where all later blue shades are descendants of.
Lapis Lazuli has a cristalline origin, it was made by pulverizing the precious stones from Afghanistan. The original Indigo is vegetal, as it is produced out of indigo-plants through an intensive rotting process. International Klein Blue, Yves Klein’s Ultramarine blue paint, the most brilliant appearance of the old Lapis Lazuli, consists solely of chemicals. Tarpaulin blue has neither a fabulous ancestor nor a precedent in nature or patented synthetic formula.
I became aware of the existence of a new blue, Tarpaulin blue, during my residency in Mumbai, where blue tarpaulins are used for everything. From then on, I am alerted by tarpaulins almost everywhere and everyday. Tarpaulins are the universal emergency solution and the primary shelter for people around the globe.
Tarpaulin blue occurs as infinite variations (like the hydrangea in my mother’s garden). There are as many Tarpaulin blue’s as there are situations where people use the (blue) tarpaulins in.
Tarpaulin blue is alterable, it changes and fades by use and it’s pigmented by necessity in peoples lives.
Tarpaulins penetrate my work and become a bearer of sense. I perceive the color Tarpaulin blue as a sign of the time, as the now-blue.
TARPAULIN BLUE © Marie Julia Bollansée 2016
Performance for the Kathmandu Triennale:
The performance is an exercice in understanding the city of Kathmandu and the people living here, The performance is also about ‘bringing a living sculpture into being’that has connections with situations of humans all over the world, today and in the history of mankind.
You can read it, very directly, as a reference to the catastrophical earthquake that tortured Kathmandu. But it also refers to the petrified “fugitives” that are discovered in the lava in Pompeii (Italy), 2000 years after they were buried there by the vulcanic eruption of the Vesuvius. It refers to Egyptian mummies and Etruscan sarcophages. It also reminds to the very actual situation of political and economic refugees fleeing from their countries and searching for a safe and welcoming place on earth where they can build a new living. It also could be a peacefull dormitory with resting people…
The performance is a silent ritual for Kathmandu. The action is in fact a non-action: laying down motionless for a long amount of time (1 hour), on a blue tarpaulin, on the ground. The backbone is connected to the ground, the face is aiming towards the sky above.
The artist works together with 2 male performers. In collaborating this way, the performance, on the one hand, references to the situation of men and women in Nepal, the existing role-models, the inequality,…, on the other hand, it wants to express the fundamental equality of all human beings.
The audience will be invited to participate. They can lay down on the empty tarpaulins (there are nine in total) for the time they want to do so. When the performance is over, the blue tarpaulins are left in the space. The audience is free to take them away, and use them for whatever they want to, be it as a utensil to build a shelter, or be it saving a relique of this work of art.
Ryan Elisabeth Reid, USA
Ryan Elisabeth Reid is a multi-disciplinary artist focusing on visual and performance art. Currently, Reid is a Fulbright Creative Arts grantee in Nepal, creating artwork with a multi-generational ensemble of Nepalese women to create a women’s ritual performance. Ms. Reid is a student of Anna Halprin; performing in her work and involved in her Performance Lab collective. Ms. Reid is the founder and Artistic Director of Sprat Artistic Ensemble for which she has created three theater works; including “One Day in the Life of Henri Shnuffle” and “Henri”, both favorably reviewed by the New York Times. Today, Sprat continues by teaching art and theater workshops to elders. Ms. Reid has been a music and expressive arts therapist in nursing homes, has been commissioned to make a multitude of painting commissions, has been published in various literary journals and continues to make work featuring multi-generational collaboration. Ms. Reid is a graduate of the BAFA program at Parsons School of Design (Integrated Design) and Eugene Lang College (Creative Writing).
The artist wakes up each morning, rubs her cheeks, and acknowledges the cycle of a new day.
Circles are a representation of life. Consider the cycles, circles, and revolutions in life.
Be calm and present with the elderly, with children, with the homeless, and with others.
Find that constant reminder that helps you to: slow down, see, watch the world, travel, look, feel.
It is important to dance, to be silly, and to be still.
White is the inclusion of all colors in one (as light) except for its opposite: black. Remember inclusion, remember white.
Ask questions: of others, of yourself, of time.
Art cures loneliness. Ensemble cures loneliness.
Befriend someone from a different generation, converse with them, learn from them and work with them.
Aging is the process of coming back to the beginning.
Slowness is greatness.
Listen with the whole body.
Throughout life find community that challenges, supports, and teaches. Engage community, demand more from community, help and love community.
The ensemble shares laughter, stories, space, light.
The ensemble collects, listens, scores, performs, discusses.
The ensemble represents the life cycle from all ages, races, and backgrounds.
The ensemble is the oldest and youngest moment.
The ensemble is: stillness, center, community, color, collectivity, and their fellow performers.
The artist wakes up each morning, rubs her cheeks and acknowledges the cycle of a new day.
– Ryan Elisabeth Reid
Alice Fox – Londen, Britain
Alice Fox is a Tate Exchange Associate, Deputy Head of the School of Art at the University of Brighton, UK. She is founder of the pioneering MA Inclusive Arts Practice. Her interests include conversations, collaborations and artistic exchange. Alice’s research practice is inclusive arts education, participatory performance and visual art.
As Director of the learning disabled Rocket Artists, she directed ‘Side by Side: learning disability, art and collaboration’ – an international exhibition and symposium of Inclusive Arts at the Southbank Centre. Alice co-authored Inclusive Arts Practice and Research: A critical manifesto, published by Routledge 2015. She collaboratively directed and performed in ‘It’s a Wrap’ and ‘Smudged’ inclusive dance performances at Tate Modern and ‘Measures of Bodies’ at the opening night of the European Conference on Childhood Disability, Brussels Medical Museum.
Alice is also a trustee for Epic Arts, an inclusive arts center in Cambodia. In the early eighties Alice was the singer in the cult band The Marine Girls.
Alice is interested in the practice of ‘collective sense making through creative exchange’ and is currently working with the following questions
- How can performance deepen inquiry into human exchange?
- What are the practices of expanded listening?
- Can performative acts of exchange, with materials, support increased intimacy and connection?
- Can the practice of exchange build connection and empathy and support participants to break through impasse and conflict?
Description of the Triennial work
Taxi Guff Gaff – motion, conversation, drawing – drawings displayed at Arts Council during Triennial
Taxi Guff Gaff KTM invites Kathmandu Triennial artists, curators and organisers to undertake a series of conversational journeys whilst travelling in taxis across the cityscape.
The ever changing views outside the windows provide space to dwell on the delights and challenges arising during constructing the triennial and its’ artworks.
These exchanges will be captured in a series of motion drawings made collaboratively in the back seats.
Collaborators – city surface, taxi wheels, conversation, taxi drivers, triennial artists and organisers
This durational piece asks
Can Taxi Guff Gaff use the combined forces of motion, the cityscape, material surface, conversation, artists and drawing to discover routes through conflict and ‘stuckness’ to shift thinking?
Paradox of Praxis 1 #2 (pushing together) –screening at Arts Council Kathmandu during Triennial
Performance artists Ashmina Ranjit and Alice Fox perform their new duet Paradox of Praxis 1 #2 (Pushing Together) through the streets of Kathmandu.
Ranjit and Fox, silently using the ‘practices of expanded listening’ perform a durational duet through the streets of Kathmandu City. Connected through their joint exertion, they slowly, persistently push a large block of ice, quietly finding strength and direction from the companionship of the other.
Both women, dressed in defiant red silk, navigate the ever diminishing ice through a time travelling route. Starting in the 16th century Durbar Square, persevering through the cracked, jagged and bumpy city landscape to the modern area of Durbar Marg.
The performance concludes at the Parliament Buildings where we are presented with the ice finally melting to nothing.
The work honours and re-contextualizes Francis Alys’ performance the Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Making Something Leads To Nothing) originally performed in Mexico in1997.
The performance recognizes and celebrates the proposition in Alys’ original work of ‘Sometimes Making Leads to Nothing’ and in addition asks;
- Can the process of making something that leads to nothing offer us something?
- Can journeying together through futility earn or teach us something?
Useful web links
The Rocket Artists – http://www.rocketartists.co.uk
Alice research webpages – http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/staff/alice-fox