Kathmandu Triennale 2077 will take in early 2022, across multiple culturally and historically significant venues in Kathmandu, in three clusters: Patan, Boudha, Kathmandu. Slated to be the largest presentation of contemporary art in Nepal to date, the Triennale will exhibit works by over 100 artists and collaborators from more than 40 nations. An international symposium and performance programme will also be held during the opening week.

One of the starting points of the exhibition are the image- and object-making lineages that transversed or unfolded in parallel to the fractures of the modern. The Triennale will discuss appropriate frameworks of understanding and bringing together these multiple aesthetic and cosmological lineages active today, from paubha painting in Nepal to ink in East Asia and barkcloth in the Pacific, as well as to other languages marginalised by a Eurocentric canon. But the triennale will also look beyond the dominant traditions in these contexts, to showcase materiality and media from communities which have often been subjected to processes of internal colonisation by their own, often post-colonial, states and their official cultural narratives. These explorations of vocabularies of representation will also include a genealogy of map-making, from the depiction of the whole universe to the inner human body (sometimes in the same map), instruments for navigating the earth and healing the body. These will be shown in parallel with an effort to revisit the reception and influence of several figures from Nepali art history of the past decades.

The Triennale is also crucially interested in indigenous knowledge that is active and subversive, working towards the upending of patriarchal structures and dominant national frameworks, creating new global solidarity of places and communities of resistance. Works from across continents will be exhibited, placing Nepal on a different geography, beyond the regions that it is commonly considered in. Bringing new constellations of coordinates will also be pursued by thinking about Nepal among a list of other countries who have defined their modern identity along the complicated and imprecise narrative of being the sole countries in their regional contexts to not have been colonised, including Thailand, Ethiopia, Tonga, creating many common experiences including delaying the urgency to decolonise their cultural narratives. The years of political tragedy in the past decades, the layers of destruction that have brought both trauma and resistance to the fore, the shared experience of contemporaneity as a recent and precarious bridgehead over catastrophe creates another community of memory alongside Nepal, drawn from different geographies, from Southeast Asia to Latin America. Nepal’s status as a country of mass emigration opens up yet another definition of an internationale. Natural catastrophes in the past years, in Mexico, Haiti, or Japan, and in historical times in Portugal, Chile, or California have had far-reaching cultural and political consequences, which will be explored together with Nepal’s own, following the 2015 Earthquake.

Taragaon Museum, built as a modernist fantasy in the early 70s, holds a unique archive of more than 50 years of research by foreign artists, photographers, architects, and anthropologists on the Kathmandu Valley, with a particular attention to heritage. This very narrow Eurocentric perspective, with Nepal as an object of study will be reversed, with artists invited to work with the archive, ethnographing the ethnographers, or ignoring them completely. The little researched connections between anthropological studies on shamanism in Nepal and their influence on European conceptual art, the exoticisation of the country alongside other Asian contexts by some leading figures of the late Western avant-garde, relocating there, traveling, or fantasizing from afar, will be read from a Nepali perspective

The contested public space around the Nepal Academy of Fine Arts and the institution’s temporary structures in the same compound, erected while its 19th century headquarters awaits post-earthquake rehabilitation, will host a ‘garden show,’ with artists invited to plant, cultivate, and design an exhibition as a heterogenous park. Humans have been creating artificial environments ever since they started making objects, either in the process of economically exploiting and dislocating nature or through the sophisticated manipulation of garden design. Both of these practices have always been culturally specific, similar to other art forms and cultural practices. Currently, the alteration of the Earth has passed a threshold where man-made landscapes seem to be the planet’s default state. 

While the language of ethnography and colonial-type museums, where objects and forms from different contexts have been amassed and described, attempted until recently to describe the perimeter of cultures, some cultural forms remained more elusive to this exercise. Gardens are one of these complicated objects and some of the most untranslatable cultural artefacts, their dependence on local climate making them difficult to move, displace and isolate, and their replication even more imprecise than that of other cultural forms. Botanical gardens in colonial centers were more preoccupied with relocating seeds and maximising their economic potential in their new location than with the plants’ complex position and meaning in their original context and chinoiserie gardens throughout Europe were a case in point for the difficulty of replicating garden culture. As the future is marked by our ability to negotiate—in different cultural codes—our common ownership of the global environment, under the growing perspective of both a climate and a political catastrophe, understanding how humans have been shaping their land and landscape will be essential.


Kathmandu Triennale 2077 was made possible by the generous support of various Sponsors and Partners
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