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Interdisciplinary Visual Arts

Yasmin Afschar, Emma Kunz and Uriel Orlow at Kathmandu Triennale 2077

Talk on Emma Kunz
by Yasmin Afschar
art historian and curator
1 Mar 2022
at Patan Museum Courtyard
between 1-3 PM

Talk by Uriel Orlow
3 Mar 2022
at Taragaon Museum
between 1-4 PM

Uriel Orlow, After Yellow portrays an oriental mustard garden sowed in a pattern evoking a mustard millKathmandu Triennale
Photo courtesy Kathmandu Triennale

Kathmandu Triennale is Nepal’s premier international platform for global contemporary arts, now in its fourth edition. The Triennale is informed by discourses of decolonisation, migration and displacement, indigenous knowledge, and redefining the parameters of art beyond a Eurocentric canon. It will discuss appropriate frameworks of understanding and bring together the multiple aesthetic and cosmological lineages active today.

Emma Kunz
Work No. 030, 1892–1963
Pencil, crayon, and oil crayon on brown scale paper white with raster
Courtesy of the Emma Kunz Foundation

Kathmandu Triennale 2077 takes place in the spring of 2022, across five culturally and historically significant venues in Kathmandu, in three clusters: Patan, Boudha, Kathmandu. Emma Kunz and Uriel Orlow’s works will be among those exhibited by over 100 artists and collaborators from more than 40 nations.

From 1938, Emma Kunz created large-scale pictures on graph paper. She regarded these multi-layered pictures as holograms, spaces you could walk into, images to be unfolded or collapsed back down again.

More on Emma Kunz

On one level, the drawings presented cryptic answers to the numerous questions that interested her. These might be spiritual or philosophical in nature, or they might contain the cause and treatment of an illness, or provide an explanation for a political situation.On another level, the pictures were used to help with her patients’ physical or mental problems; Kunz would place the drawings between herself and the patient during healing rituals. To Emma, her works went far beyond the popular definitions of art; she was sounding out spiritual layers that often led to prophecy. She became one of the pioneering artists to develop the language of abstraction in art, and her work has also often been aligned with sacred geometry.Swiss artist and researcher Emma Kunz is also considered to be one of the most important healers of the past millennium. Her timeless art and work in leading innovative thought and practice continues to resurge in recognition over the years.

Three of Kunz’s drawings will be on display at the Kathmandu Triennale. Art historian and curator Yasmin Afschar will give a talk on Emma Kunz and her work on the occasion.

More on Yasmin Afschar

Yasmin Afschar is a Swiss-Iranian curator, editor, and producer for contemporary visual and discursive arts, based in Zurich. She studied Art History, Persian Literature, and Cultural Anthropology in Zurich and Berlin. She is the former curator at Aargauer Kunsthaus in Aarau, Switzerland, and together with Giola Dal Molin and Gabrielle Schaad, she has been running the nomadic discussion platform LE FOYER – IN PROCESS since 2018.

Exhibitions Yasmin organized include “Emma Kunz Cosmos. A Visionary in Dialogue with Contemporary Art” (Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau 2021 & Tabakalera, San Sebastián 2022) as well as solo exhibitions with Denise Bertschi, Cédric Eisenring, and Marie Matusz, among others. Recent edited volumes include “Emma Kunz Cosmos” (2021) and “Denise Bertschi. Strata. Mining Silence” (2020). In 2021 she spent three months in Hong Kong as the winner of the first Young Curator Residency founded by Asia Society Switzerland, administered in partnership with Tai Kwun Contemporary in Hong Kong.Yasmin’s curatorial interests lie in how exhibitions can create events of knowledge that question the structures in place. Recent research includes how notions and concepts of healing are used by contemporary artists to address current societal and political concerns.

Born in 1973 in Zurich, Uriel Orlow lives and works between London and Lisbon.
After Yellow is a garden sown with Oriental Mustard (tori in Nepali and tū in Nepal Bhasa) in a pattern evoking a traditional wooden mustard mill from the nearby village of Khokana, just south of Kathmandu. The community is famed for its centuries-old practice of mustard cultivation and milling of prized mustard oil that supplies Kathmandu, the country and beyond.

After Yellow: Artist Statement by Uriel Orlow

Originating in the foothills of the Himalayas, the cultivation of Oriental Mustard has spread out from Nepal and far across the globe. Its culinary and medicinal use is well documented, including in Sanskrit texts from as early as 5000 years ago, and for a long time mustard oil was the only cooking oil used in Nepal. Today, both the physical and intangible heritage of indigenous mustard oil and the pioneering cooperative mill system that developed over 600 years ago, is threatened by new machinery and global market competition, which makes local production unviable. The cultivation of mustard itself is slowly disappearing as Kokhana, in the Lalitpur district, is being engulfed by the rapid urbanization of the Kathmandu Valley.Referencing land art and the colour fields from the history of monochrome painting – in particular Rodchenko’s Pure Yellow Colour from 1921 – this work by Orlow is an homage to indigenous technologies, and a reminder of economic models on the brink of being forgotten. Putting the vegetal at center-stage, After Yellow acts as a witness to histories of human-plant interactions and is rooted in the local seasonal cycles of change as well as in the traditional calendars of cultivation. As such it also serves as a critical symbol for what Bruno Latour and others have described as ‘the growing disconnect between the land we live on and the land we live from.’
Artist’s acknowledgements:Curatorial and production assistance: Sanjeev MaharjanProduction lead: Dipak Lama, Suresh MaharjanGardener: Raj Bhai MaharjanSoil testing: Agricultural Technology CentreVenue coordinator: Bishal YonjanResearch assistant: Sujan ShresthaKhokana tour guide: Hari DangolGarden assistants: Shyam Tamang, Phurba Tamang, Hari Pant, Kamal Shrestha, Muna Chettri, Dil Kumari Karki

For more information, visit the Kathmandu Triennale website.

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