Printed in The Week, Republica on December 16, 2011
Photographs by Manish, Republica.
On November 30, 2010, visual artist Ashmina Ranjit had announced that the alternative art trust Lasanaa planned to open a Live Art Hub in the near future.
A year later, the arts community witnessed the inauguration of the Hub in the premises of Martin Chautari, Thapathali.
Funded by the Danish Embassy, the Hub officially opened on Monday, December 12, 2011 and it is here to stay.
“The plan for a communal art space goes back to five or six years,” shares Ranjit, taking in the winter sun on Thursday morning. One of the founders of Lasanaa, she continues, “But we started planning and looking for spaces one year back.” Martin Chautari offered them the space and it seems most ideal since Lasanaa has been organizing monthly discussions on art at Martin Chautari for three years now.
The Hub is very basic in appearance. The total space of 870 sq feet consists of an open concrete hall constructed out of metal poles, tin roofs, and walls made from used flex sheets and jute.
Adjacent is a small office space. To the right is an open lawn, also available for use. The infrastructure may be simple but what drives it is dedicated passion.
“Although started by Lasanaa, the Hub is a communal space open to everyone, not just artists alone,” explains Ranjit. The Hub will function as a platform for people to come together, to engage in dialogues, exchange ideas, conduct researches, create and exhibit works.
“More importantly, it will serve as a space for artists to inspire and learn from each other, to shed their egos and widen their perspectives,” she says.
At the opening, artist and Academic Program Coordinator of Kathmandu University Center for Art & Design (KUart), Sujan Chitrakar expressed, “Such a space is very important because it brings together students from KUart, Sirjana College, and Lalit Kala – a space that even KUart hasn’t been able to provide.”
Chitrakar is already one of the mentors, along with Ranjit and Jupiter Pradhan, for the Hub’s upcoming residency program.
“The theme for the residency is about redefining Kathmandu Valley in the contemporary context through art,” informs Ranjit. “Artists will be working individually and in groups to explore three cities – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan – for two months and creating works, side by side.”
Live Art Hub is currently accepting applications for the program which will begin at the end of the month.
The Hub also recently awarded grants to five proposals submitted after their workshop ‘Techne-kala: Enriching art practice through research” which was held in November. The grantees’ projects range from working “With Street Children” by Riti Maharjan and Mahesh Bastakoti to “Fabric of Identity” by Supriya Manandhar.
The focus again is about encouraging research on socio-political issues and relating the information through practices in art.
As the current coordinator, Ranjit envisions the Hub as a happening and lively space and thus, the “Live” in front of Art Hub.
“The Hub will constantly encourage artivities (art activities) that promote artivism (art and activism) and attempt to break the notion that art is just a ‘tranquilizer for the elites,’”firmly asserts Ranjit, who feels that art happenings in Kathmandu are limited.
In many ways, it is true. Artists mostly meet each other at show openings and inaugurations.
Workshops happen for a day or two and the outcomes are usually limited to a painting or two and there are also personal ego issues to deal with.
Live Art Hub has many challenges to overcome before change actually happens in the art scene. But on a positive note, it also has the potential to be a true catalyst for personal growth and development of artists and of the arts community as a whole.