‘It was vital that all artists involved in the project understood the need to adopt the perspective of Sipapokari residents while they were in the village. Workshops for the artists were held at NexUs so that they would get to know each other and have a good idea of each other’s work before going to Sipapokhare. Living and working together at NexUs helped the artists not just to bond with each other but also to look at themselves and each other with the objectivity that would help them understand the lives of those they would meet at Sipapokhare. During this time, we planned how the workshops at Sipapokhare with the residents might be structured, knowing that they would probably last no more than two days. We made sure everybody was aware of the importance of collaboration – both during their time in Sipapokhare, when they would be staying with and living alongside dalits – and after they returned to Kathmandu, when they would be developing art based on their experiences in the village. This was a process that was not just about artists helping residents to create art but also about the residents helping the artists to question their own preconceptions about creativity.’
Children’s workshops, Sipapokhare, June 2017.
Artists: Shrawan Maharjan, Abhishek Shah, Kunjan Tamang, Lisa Gupta, Moona Pennanen, Dipti Sherchan.
‘It was very important to make all the children feel confident about what they were doing as some of the kids were shy and had very sad stories to tell about their lives. By the end of the first day, the children were able to make self-portraits and by the end of the second day, we as artists, had supported them to produce a collage of their work. I am happy to say that all the children who took part contributed something to the work that was created.’
– Shrawan Maharjan
Young Voices: The Search for Identity.
Adolescent workshop led by: Photographer Kevin Bubriski, March 2017.
Artists involved: Shrawan Maharjan, Abhishek Shah, Kunjan Tamang, Lisa Gupta, Moona Pennanen, Dipti Sherchan.
In March 2017, four photographers and artists from Nepal, the United States and the Netherlands took DSLR camera’s to the community of Sipapokhare. The five day participatory workshop in rural Sindhupalchowk aimed to develop the photographic skills of local youths so they can explore their own identity and ultimately express the way they look at the world around them through photography and storytelling. The cameras were put into the hands of ten young students, aged ten to 15, from the Tamang, Newar and Dalit communities. The youngsters
were given the opportunity to take photos that told stories about themselves, each other, their families and their communities. In the past the Dalit and other marginalized communities of Nepal have been photographed by professional journalists and international NGO’s. This photography project put the cameras directly into the hands of the Dalit and Janjati young people, and handed them the responsibility of telling their own stories through their images. The collection of the students’ photographs was exhibited in March 2017 at Lasanaa/NexUs, as part of the Kathmandu Triennale. This work will undoubtedly reach a large national and international audience through social media platforms. There are also plans to distribute a print publication in every school in Nepal, especially in the remote regions where Wi-Fi and motor roads have not yet reached. Ideally this project will encourage all young people in Nepal to explore openly their identity and diversity.
– Kevin Bubriski, documentary photographer
Adolescent workshop, Katmandu, April 2017.
Ashmina Ranjit, Isaac Martinez (Mexico), Filipe Garcia (Portugal), Lisa Gupta, Srijanalay (Organization), Basanta Ranjitkar.
Education outreach Trienalle and Srijanalay.
In April the adolescents came to Katmandu with this workshop we looked at the identity politics on the national and global level. They took a tour to the Katmandu Trienalle and observed how artists express themselves through art. This was an eye opening experience for them and allowed for the adolescents to gain new perspectives.
Adolescents group workshop at Sipapokhare, June 2017.
Hemmo Siponen, Muna Bhadel, Malashree Suvedi, Ashmina Ranjit.
The purpose of this workshop was to facilitate a space for the adolescents to view art beyond the conventional understanding of what it is, and to be able to view the mundane as art.The workshop lasted two days, for about five hours each day. The group created maps, made visual representations of memories, collected objects from nature, created poems and conducted interviews.
‘They appeared confident and enthusiastic throughout the workshop, but of course they opened up more by the start of the second day.’
Mothers group, Sipapokhare, June 2017.
Rabin Maharjan and Kunjan Tamang.
The artists overseeing this workshop with mothers were all agreed that the focus should not mainly be on the creation of art but on trying to get the mothers to feel confident enough so they could tell the stories which were important in their lives.
‘For the second day, we asked the mothers to bring to the workshop an object which they regarded as
being very important in their lives. One mother brought an object and she brought a grass-cutting
knife. It turned out that the story behind the knife was the story of this woman’s life as she’d started
using it when she was a child and was taught how to cut grass to prepare it for cattle. It was amazing
how hearing this woman’s story encouraged all the mothers to speak out more openly.’
– Kunjan Tamang
Teachers group, Sipapokhare, June 2017.
Ashmina Ranjit, Amrita Sen, Keshab Raj Khanal and Yajyu Manandhar.
We were hoping that between ten and 14 teachers from eight different schools would take part. As it turned out, eight teachers – five men and three women – took part. As none of the teachers were from the dalit caste, we also included seven adolescents in the workshop, so that it wouldn’t just involve a group of people from intellectual backgrounds. The three groups were encouraged to create maps which would put into visual form their dreams for what Sipapokhare would be like in five years’ time. Also, we asked for a depiction of what they considered to be the most important events that had happened in Sipapokhare over the past ten years and we wanted a map of the ten most important places in the district.
‘What was most satisfying in the process was seeing how the teachers learnt from the kids.’
Teachers group with adolscents, Sipapokhare, June 2017.
Behind the Blackboard, June 2017.
Muna Bhadel, Rabin Maharjan and Abu Nasir Robii
Behind the Blackboard is a workshop concept which comprises one to three months
long ”transition workshops” held in secondary schools with 12-16 year old youths in different countries.
The workshop aims to provide the youths creative space and means to envision how their own immediate
environments can be more desirable and to transform that vision into reality.
The workshop can be applied in any youth community but since many of the youths spend a significant part of their time in schools
the educational institutions provide a meaningful environment for the workshop implementation. The institutional framework offers also a
convenient infrastructure to gather the youths together and to sustain the change the participants create during the workshop.
Each Behind the Blackboard workshop is evaluated based on the participants ́ personal development in creative problem solving and skills to envision alternatives for their current situation.
The main factor for the successful workshop relies however on the effectiveness of the change the youths implement in their communities. The experience of producing evident change, and
the feedback it raises from the youngsters ́ own communities can truly empower the youths, nurturing their development as resilient, active and vital members of their communities.
‘As the aim of the project we outlined to support and develop how artistic methods could be used to
strengthen the local catastrophe resilience as well as to try to help to locally regain confidence and hope
as the reconstruction of the badly hit infrastructure has been very slow and tedious. As the earthquake
had happened in 2015 a lot of artists changed their practices to work on the rebuilding and the thought
was to try to support these kind of projects as well as for our students to both learn from these as well
as help develop them together with the local artists.’
– Ulrika Ferm, artist and professor at the University of the Arts, Helsinki
‘We visited the places and organizations to observe the reality faced by local people and to understand their views toward the lower
caste communities. The project was very important for gathering information about the lower castes
and for speaking to local people so we could start a dialogue that may perhaps help them to help the
lower castes. And by presenting the actual statements and views of local people to political leaders,
community groups and reporters, we have positive expectations for change in the future.’
– Narayan Rokka, project co-ordinator in Sipapokhare