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Indigenous and local art practices are a form of cultural expression. They are uniquely created through cultural values, belief systems, social experiences, and relationships with nature and natural resources. With these elements as the foundation, art expressions can be a critical medium of cultural transmission and contribute to forming perceptions of identity. Art practices can also be a platform for self-expression and reflect the evolution of certain social values with time. It can be a source of reflection and change as well.
* This work is a product of the research and curatorial concept for the Kathmandu Triennale 2077. Video and photo documentation was conducted by Artree Nepal and Amuse Group. The project was supported by the World Bank (Nepal). The findings, interpretations, and narratives presented here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Siddhartha Arts Foundation or the World Bank.
Colonial and the imperial distinction between ‘traditional’, ‘modern’, ‘art’ and ‘craft’
often undervalues indigenous knowledge, consequently affecting the value of indigenous art practices. Compared to the recognized and lucrative “contemporary” art industry, art conceived through indigenous knowledge like that of healing, mapping, weaving, sculpting, mural painting, performing, and oral histories have been historically sidelined and are at risk of being lost and forgotten. With it presents the risk of losing history, culture, livelihoods, and a sense of identity conceived through knowledge that has passed on for generations.
The Kathmandu Triennale, with the support of the World Bank, has sought to highlight the history and significance of a handful of vibrant artistic practices found across various indigenous and local communities across Nepal. As part of the curatorial research for Kathmandu Triennale 2077, these case studies observe art forms that are in decline due to social and economic impediments. While the continuation of these traditions remains tenuous, the artists, some of whom are among the last practitioners in their community, have persevered against the odds to upkeep their heritage.