June 5, 2011 was World Environment Day!
Some parts of Kathmandu were bubbling with positive energy with treehuggers spreading awareness on sustainable consumption and environmental awareness. I hoped to contribute my fair share by taking likeminded individuals (tree huggers) to a free screening of a documentary – “The age of Stupid” in Patan. Having blogged about it some time back, I really looked forward to watching this movie for the first time. Unsure whether the venue for the screening was the square, the museum inside the square or the Yala Mala Kendra, I alongwith Udayan (an avid documentary fan), reached Mangal Bazaar at around five to make it in time for the documentary. Things took a different turn there, as we found that the documentary was to be aired on a makeshift open air theatre in a small square inside Patan Durbar Square. Furthermore, they were postponing the show to be screened at 6:00 PM by at least 45 minutes so that the sun would set.
With time aplenty on our hands, we stumbled into an art installation entitled “we may all end up in the same boat” by Ms. Michelle Hall – an Australian artist, being showcased inside the Patan Museum. Hoping to gaze at some art while killing time, we loitered in and actually managed to catch pieces of conversation as the artist in question, paraded and interacted with a group of aspiring artists.
Michelle’s pièce de résistance was probably her title piece – “we may all end up in the same boat” on sale for a whopping NRs 90,000. At first glance, I observed a broken down hammock in one corner and three other hammocks strung up in succession. On reading her blurb on the piece and overhearing her explanation, I realised that they were not hammocks but boats. The dilapidated boat in front was a boat damaged by climate change and other impending environmental concerns, while the beaded and colourful boats in the other far end were brimming with hope and happiness. Beads, feathers and glitter identified joy and happiness in the joyous boats.
The artist explained that she derived her inspiration from the movie “Hotel Rwanda” and cases of genocide our world faces today. She underscored climate change and the conflicts between race and creed as major problems in today’s world and she hoped that her installation would warn us of the impending disaster that lay ahead. She maintained that her installation depicted a very negative future but she was hopeful that all of mankind would end up in the same joyous and colourful boat that was sailing on the high seas, and not be abandoned on the broken down boat at the shore.
Her other installation art piece – verses of “a song for the things that don’t get sung” nailed onto the floor and placed in sequence on the walls was a delight.
Her third piece – “If she isn’t free neither are we”, which I thought initially to be atolls kept afloat by red tow lines in a sea of white, were in fact bloodied scars on a bed (the red lines signified blood). It supposedly depicted the stories of women who were maltreated and shared stories of societal and domestic violence.
Udayan managed to capture quite a number of photos of the artist and her art installation, while I took a reprieve from her laden content. I personally found her work to be apocalyptic and doomsday-ish, but I am still a novice at understanding art and am art-blind.
Michelle Hall’s creations were showcased in Patan Museum by Kathmandu Contemporary Arts Centre (KCAC) and is available until 12 June 2011.
Coverage of the event in the Himalayan times.
NB: We skipped on the movie thereafter as it showed no signs of screening at around 6:30 PM when we made headway to our homes.
More photos from the event – most photos by Udayan Mishra, post processing and aftereffects by myself