The objective of the pavilion is not about a single artist getting the spotlight. With focus on collective memory and the rejection of the fetishisation of a spiritual highland, it is rather that Nepal, as a centre of art, the confluence of multiple ethnicities, indigenous cultures and histories, take ownership of its voice and identity.
“The driving question behind the pavilion was what story we wanted to tell about Nepal, and from what angle,” explains Sherpa. “Wherever we are today is rooted in the past.”
Indeed, contemporary and traditional art forms co-exist, reacting to one another. To this effect, Sherpa collaborated with local artists Vijay Maharjan, his team, Mt Refuge, Asha Rai and Sunil Bahadur Moktan, to create, with curators Rajbhandari and Gurung, a striking response to the contradictory conceptualisation of Nepal, challenging the stereotype of it being both an impoverished backwater and a Shangri-La.
In the last few decades, Sherpa adds, the artwork, metal craft, wood carvings have all been commodified and collectively termed as ‘handicraft’ and ‘ souvenirs’. “But that is not who we are, and even though these industries have economic value, that is not what our art is limited to,” he says.