Nepali Times: What role has Nepal played in your development as an artist?
Erna Anema: I have always loved Nepal and I have been coming to this country for over 40 years now. I saw a documentary about Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mt Everest as a child and decided then that I would grow up and travel to Nepal. I trekked around Nepal and started off as a mountain landscape painter. Nepal really inspires the artist in me and I have returned time and again. I even had a short stint of teaching arts at Nepal Arts Academy and managed to exhibit my first project at Siddhartha Art Gallery in 1996. The culture, heritage and art work is so versatile here that the more you explore, the more there is to learn.
The 53 seconds, 5 years later exhibition depicts the 2015 earthquake. How did the idea come about?
This is a collaborative project with my peers Ellert Haitjema and Renate Schwarz. In 2016, the year after the earthquake, I travelled to Helambu for a trek. Walking around I could sense the pain the residents must have suffered. Window frames were laid together with window frames, pillars with pillars.
There was a certain order in the disorder, even in villages where there was only one house left. There were several storylines in the many hundreds of photos I took. The idea was initially unclear, but with the help of Renate, we stuck with Earthquake Blue and it went on display in Amsterdam in 2018.
Why Earthquake Blue?
When I was in Helambu, everywhere I walked I saw the blue colour, either the blue plastic covers wrapped to create a makeshift home or to cover the debris, or the blue sky. In the hundreds of pictures I took, blue was the most prominent colour. The Earthquake Blue exhibition started in Amsterdam and this is the first time it will be on display in Kathmandu.