design.nl
Sluit Filter
Search:
Dutch design news website

Blog: Nepal Adventures Week 3

20 students from the Rietveld Academie Amsterdam left for Nepal to work with students from Kathmandu. This exchange project was initiated by Erna Anema and is being led by Aaf van Essen, Manon van Kouswijk, Matthias Keller, Ellert Haitjema, Joost Post and Sophie Krier. Design.nl asked Sophie, head of the Design Lab department at the Rietveld Academie, to keep a weblog over the coming weeks.

By No author / 13-03-2008

20 students from the Rietveld Academie Amsterdam left for Nepal to work with students from Kathmandu. This exchange project was initiated by Erna Anema and is being led by Aaf van Essen, Manon van Kouswijk, Matthias Keller, Ellert Haitjema, Joost Post and Sophie Krier. Design.nl asked Sophie, head of the Design Lab department at the Rietveld Academie, to keep a weblog over the coming weeks.

Last Friday the twenty Ned-Nep couples presented their first try-outs and as the afternoon passed, it slowly became clear to everyone which topics would be addressed in this project and which not... These turning moments are thrilling but also a little sad: expectations and dreams suddenly need to start tuning in with demands from reality.

In a joint lecture programme intended as a stream of impulses for the projects, Rietveld and KU teachers shared their own dreams with the students last weekend.

Aaf kicked off the series by bringing the sea to Kathmandu: the sea as source of rhythm, food, danger and inspiration. I took over and questioned how public spaces become about how they behave, using ideas from different parts of the world. The next day, Gopal Sir told us a story about the typical earthenware of the Kathmandu valley: a long time ago, male ducks making a Phhhiti Phhhiti sound (signifying ‘put sand, put sand’) secretly told grateful potters how to master the high plasticity clay of the valley. Matthias complemented these Nepali beliefs with a detective like overview of the history of European ceramics (including kidnapping, black mailing and colonialist hypocrisy).

On Monday, Erna initiated us into the art of borders in painting: “Colours generate borders, and borders generate form. How can new forms evolve from intersections?” Joost enlarged the meaning of textile and highlighted the subtle differences between knotting, knitting, netting, braiding, weaving, winding, twisting and many more. Manon presented ten contemporary ways of dealing with jewellery, and raised the question: “What does it take for an object to become a piece of jewellery?”

On Tuesday, Ellert’s lecture paid a tribute to improvisation and intuition. Ellert: “When you postpone identity, you give a chance for imagination to come in.” Sujan finally introduced contemporary Nepali artists to us, stating that change is the drive of all creativity. Tejesh’s lecture was postponed to Friday due to mysterious technical problems, best summarised as ‘found lost found lost searching’.

With only one week left before the opening of our IN BETWEEN exhibition at the Nepal Art Council of Baber Mahal, ideas are now being tested in the form of objects, installations and interventions. This is no easy task: contextualizing and translating one’s ideas demands focus and commitment, both scarce resources in these bewildering Ned-Nep times.

Living with scarcity and insecurity affects everyone in Nepal. Arthur and Sheelasha have started sketching ways to represent the effects of the electricity, water, and gas and kerosene shortages on daily life of Kathmandu. “When electricity stops, the darkness is like a silent vibration. Whole areas get excluded from participation”, Sheelasha said. The dark hours also give her peace, somehow, she added. Fellow student Arthur: “The long queues for petrol and water create friction, you feel an aggression that can come up any moment”. When they lined up for gas the other day, they pulled number 250... How to address such complex problems? Perhaps by trying to ‘answer’ a given situation using one’s own artistic and cultural resources.

Maintenance and repair
The value of maintenance and repair has been another recurring point of interest among students. Edgar and Sanjeev want to re-invent discarded objects. “The effort should be visible. (...) It should be about turning fixing into a skill”. During a try-out on Durbar Square, a drunken man in the crowd told Sanjeev: “When I do this I don’t get any respect. But you two are handsome and young...” Sherareh explains the situation: “Fixing is something for the poor: the rich who can afford new objects don’t bother doing it”. Fixing objects as an expression of cast hierarchy! So beautiful to discover how topics connect to others. The question is: can a design / art project truly act within a social fabric or does it merely perform as a commentator?

Liesbeth and Pukar have chosen to fill all the holes of one street of Kathmandu with tailor made tiles. Their intention goes beyond simple repair: they want to propose different readings and possible new uses, such as a walking route. Pukar’s life-size mappings of the holes immediately drew joyful comments from surrounding shopkeepers and inhabitants: “At last somebody is doing something about them!” (An anecdote about the stone factory: the wood used for the stove ovens comes from nearby cremations - no one else wants to use it. A note about cremations: after the bodies have burnt, children rush in the water in search of valuable belongings such as pennies... What these anecdotes show is how everything in Nepal ultimately finds its way with somebody else before becoming waste and income and waste again...)

Woman- and manhood, religious codes and personal territories

Sayaka and Atish installed tent-like ‘sari-scapes’ in Patan, observing how men, women and children react to it. A sari is a strong female symbol; walking under it is not usually done in Nepal. The fact that Atish and Sayaka were seen building up their ‘sari-scape’ together, triggered puzzled looks and a lot of giggling... When police passed by one of the sari set ups, they simply said: “Beautiful!” Working in public space in Nepal is synonymous to getting attention - and sometimes even getting help.

Sjoerd transformed the traditional (zinc or brass) water can into a bronze version of 12 kilograms, thereby referring to the 12 litres of water that the Nepalese women have to carry daily. Fellow student Amit is working on a ‘warning’ about the endangered water cycle in the form of a sculpture. A Vermeer like setting found by Lida in the kitchen of a workshop of Patan proves how intimately sculpture and need are linked (see last photo).

(Photos by: Ellert, Sophie, Arthur, Liesbeth, Pukar, Lida, Edgar, Amit. Floor plan of Kathmandu connected by electricity wires: Anne)




Add to favorites
Share this:

Additional information

Points of sale

Rating

star1 star2 star3 star4 star5

( 3 Votes, average: 3 out of 5)

click to vote

Mail this item

Your favourites

You have no favourites