Artists explore the meaning of federalism in their own ways

28 Jun 2013

image One of the creations displayed in the exhibition. Photo: UNDP Nepal

Kathmandu -- Twenty-six year old Saran Tandukar of Kathmandu University Center for Art and Design acknowledges that he has very limited knowledge about politics but feels that every citizen should be politically aware of the happenings in their country.

In order to encourage discussion among artist on federalism, UNDP’s Support for Participatory Constitution Building in Nepal (SPCBN) project joined hands with Kathmandu University School of Arts to enable these artists express their views and perspectives on the federal life.

A group of 22 young talented artists came together to give an artistic voice to their opinions about federalism. The artists took part in a two-day residential workshop on federalism and then they went back to their studios to put together an artistic piece exploring the meaning of federalism as they saw it. The art work which was showcased in five-day exhibition at Yala Maya Kendra in Patan, Kathmandu, last month which drew considerable attention from the public and the media.

Supriya Manandhar, a visual artist said that the workshop and exhibition too helped broaden her understanding on federalism.  “Federalism will not bring about an overnight change in Nepal, but I believe that if anything can give us a chance, it is federalism.”

The objective of the initiative was to clarify what federalism is and what it isn’t, and to establish clarity among the citizenry through the use of art, says International Project Manager of UNDP’s SPCBN Rohan Edrisinha.

Nepal is moving towards an inclusive new constitution, the exhibition is an experiment in provoking dialogue through an alternative forum, says Edrisinha.

Thomas Gass, the Swiss ambassador to Nepal, who came to the inaugural session of the exhibition, said that change requires debate, and that the exhibition embodied how different entities could work together to create a collective whole much stronger than the sum of its constituent parts. Touched by the artists' engagement and passion behind the paintings, Ambassador Gass drew a parallel that the same kind of passion was required to create a successful federal nation.

UNDP Country Director Shoko Noda described the exhibition an innovative way to trigger discussion on federalism in Nepal.

Apart from its aesthetic value, the idea behind the exhibition to help different segments of Nepali society to visualize themselves in a federal set up and to stimulate critical thoughts, discourse and informed debate on the federal issues.