Junk (ed) is in
Text: KANCHAN G BURATHOKI
Photos: BIJAY GAJMER (bijay.wordpress.com)
In June this year, we had 14 artists presenting their ceramic creations in “Expressions in Clay.” Then Meena Kayastha had her first solo exhibition of sculptures titled “Lyrics from the Junkyard” in August. Working once again with junk materials are 29 second-year undergraduate students of Kathmandu University Center for Art & Design (KUart). Currently on show at the Araniko Gallery of Nepal Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) at Naxal in Kathmandu is their collective exhibit titled “Junked.”
The students were first approached by the organizers of Nepal Cine Symposium to create some film-related sculptures to be exhibited during their program from November 19 to 22, 2011.
“They provided us with materials to work with and these included films, reel boxes and cameras,” shares one of the students, Nhooja Tuladhar. The enthusiastic young artists, however, also incorporated other junk items which they collected or bought on their own.
Five film-related sculptures were installed at Gurukul’s premises during the Symposium.
“We felt that we didn’t get enough viewers at the event, which is why we decided to have a separate exhibition in a gallery,” Nhooja explains.
Rounding up other works also made from waste materials, the second-year students decided to organize “Junked.” The show opened on December 6 at NAFA.
For the film-related pieces, groups of four to six students have worked on one piece.
“We were allowed to freely interpret the current film scenario and portray those ideas,” puts in Shreejana Shakya who worked on the piece “Princess Bicycle and her handsome savior Prince Camera/all hail cinema!” with five other classmates.
The story, rather filmy, is about a Bicycle Princess who has squares for wheels and cannot move. A Prince Camera comes by and changes her life with his roll of film, allowing her to see the world with him.
The gist of the piece, they state, is “the power of cinema as an art form and how it has changed the world.” If taken lightly, the story and piece seem quite amusing together. If not, the story comes off as silly and takes away from the focus of cinema being a powerful art form.
It is not just this particular work but all the celluloid-themed works have some kind of narrative and weighty metaphors. Some work and sadly some don’t.
In “Kollywood Scenario,” four students have made a flower symbolic of the Nepali film industry which is infested with “bugs.” Alongside, they have made a junk robot which represents Nepali filmmakers. The narrative is that Nepali filmmakers are not doing much to remove these bugs on the flower.
A big globe with negatives encaged within; a ghastly looking figure, also made from rolls of reel; and a junk camera set on a tripod are the other film-themed pieces.
What lacks in most of these works is the proper execution of their ideas, which are interesting but complex in themselves.
The works are layered with too much information, and it gets visually crazy. It seems that the students were trying too hard to fit the raw junk materials into their ideas.
Personally, what impressed me more were the sketches of the students’ thought processes which were on display along with their art works.
Perhaps my impression of the large film-related pieces was also influenced by the smaller minimal works at the show. Something about the neatness of these junk pieces and their lack of a huge load of film negatives make them more charming.
Prabal Bikram Shah’s “Light” at the entrance of the gallery is the highlight of the show. In fact, the inauguration of the exhibition was done by lighting his kerosene-filled electric light bulb. It is ironic and clever.
Although not set up side by side, “Another Light” by Prabal, Nhooja, and Saran Tandukar goes hand in hand with “Light.” “Another Light” has a bulb hanging from a lamp constructed from junk materials and it works with electricity.
The two together give viewers some food for thought on what light means to us – a flicker of fire, a flicker of hope, or a filament bulb that needs power.
“O kmph: end of journey” is a group work by Anish Bajracharya, Kiran Rai, and Shreezan Shrestha and they have created a sculpture resembling a motorbike.
“Personally, riding on a motorbike has a lot of memories for me,” says Anish and adds, “And it’s a mode of transportation that’s very much a part of our lifestyle here.”
The piece also reflects on the eventual end of the machine. It will become old, stop functioning, and one day end up in a junkyard. They write: “It tells the tale of how much a regarded machine meets an undeserving end.”
When asked about what he felt about working as a team, Anish states, “The clash of ideas, the ideas that come out from these clashes, and the team support we get from each other are all important and this also reflects on our works.”
Their teacher, Gopal Kalapremi Shrestha, had another point.
“Students begin to drift apart from each other, which is why I encourage collaborations and teamwork,” he said at the opening of the show.
And with that, I am looking forward to another group show from them.
“Junked” is on show until December 13 at the Araniko Gallery of NAFA in Naxal, Kathmandu.