Experimenting with the essence of contemporary art sounds ominous. But when Ashmina Ranjit puts a new spin on the art world of Nepal, it's time to listen.
Ranjit says her new Jhamsikhel art hub, Lasanaa, is based on the contemporary idea of artivism. She defines artivism as art and activism combined to redefine political art. "Art is a tool for social change and the Lasanaa art space is trying to redefine the notion of art and artists," she says.
The initiative isn't some off-the-rack trend picked up from western contemporary art. Ranjit draws on the political and cultural changes of the last 20 years. With the help of a team of academics and artists, she has finally been able to realise her dream to create a space that will define artivism in Nepal.
As Ranjit envisages it, Lasanaa will feature art and dialogue as expressed through video, sound, performance and other forms of experimental art. The space will serve as much as an open gallery to disseminate art as for the ideas they embody, and will bring together contemporary art, creative thinking, and the essence of art into an interactive hub.
A key objective for Lasanaa is also to "break the line", and demonstrate to people that art is more than paintings that hang on walls and beautify homes. "People here misunderstand the word contemporary art," Ranjit says. For her, artists too have to reflect on history if they are to produce contemporary art. "If this kind of essence is missing it's not contemporary," she says.
Ranjit laments Nepal's current education system, which according to her spoonfeeds future artistic minds. But if she has her way Lasanaa will be a site "where art is happening all the time", not for its own sake, but to encourage political art that can push society in a positive direction. Perhaps then, she says, "Art can be for the people."