Sujan Dangol traces the origin of this series to 2012, when as his graduation installation he built a city of 1,500 cardboard boxes and cartons of various brand names in the Nepal Art Council. The installation was complete with streets and roads that people could walk through and interact with. Architecture and heritage have since heavily influenced his art and outlook.
“It takes over 500 or 1,000 years to build and develop an urban civilisation, and nurture its language, heritage, culture and cuisine,” says Dangol. “But when I look at Kathmandu today, I am saddened by the changes in the last 20-30 years, and especially following the 2015 earthquake. This is not normal. Development and progress should be gradual, not disorganised.”
Houses, says Dangol, are not just places of residence. The traditional brick, timber and tiles of the buildings with their carved wooden columns, windows and doors represent an invaluable legacy and expression of craft, history, experience and expectations that span generations.
“Individual houses are just as important as temples,” he says. And a street of houses has a collective ambience, so heritage conservation must look beyond just monuments to these ordinary neighbourhoods and their old dwellings that are being torn down to be replaced with concrete.”