Asia Art Archive (AAA), in collaboration with Siddhartha Arts Foundation (Kathmandu), is pleased to announce the launch of Mobile Library: Nepal, a project that circulates books and reading materials on recent art from across Asia to artists, art practitioners, students, and educators in Nepal. The project seeks to provide foundational support to independent art initiatives and universities in the country. This is the fourth iteration of the Mobile Library project initiated by AAA, and around 400 books acquired by the team and generously donated by publishers and arts organisations from across the world have arrived in Nepal earlier this year. A series of discursive and educational programmes will be organised from February to November 2021 with the aim of activating the materials.
The library contains around 400 books, exhibition catalogues, periodicals, and monographs. The content comes from across Asia, while referencing geographies such as Africa and Latin America, as well as materials from within Nepal in Nepali language. The collection has been curated and composed in conversation with the art community in Nepal, with thematic emphasis on innovation in contemporary art of traditional and historical art forms, gender and representation in art, art in the time of crises, and collectivity, among others.
Knowledge sharing is one of the key missions of Asia Art Archive. The Mobile Library project regards books as windows to unfamiliar worlds, encouraging the exploration of diverse narratives, histories, and visual vocabularies. We consider libraries as catalysts for learning, conversations, encounters, and exchange that unfold possibilities in artistic and research practice.
Programmes Manager and
Head of Learning & Participation, Asia Art Archive
Mobile Library: Nepal is very significant for the country, where books on art, curation, and critical thinking are not easily accessible to artists, scholars, art writers, and cultural enthusiasts. This collection includes rich materials from diverse locations, and seeks to fill the void in university libraries. With a team located across New Delhi, Hong Kong, and Kathmandu, there is both a powerful local focus as well as international collaboration. Furthermore, the library will also enable and support research on the sociocultural and political transitions that impacted folk and contemporary arts. In its mobility, the project democratises access to resources within and outside of Kathmandu.
—Sangeeta Thapa, Founder and Director of the Siddhartha Arts Foundation
Mobile Library: Nepal is a collaboration with Nepal's art universities, artists, and independent arts organisations. The programme builds on the Kathmandu Triennale 2077 curatorial team's research efforts and conceptual contributions. The books will be housed in flexible, modular shelves, and the programming will have a range of online and on-site formats, including archive-building workshops, teacher-training programmes, modules in universities, and pop-up exhibitions. It will also be traveling to Janakpur in the Terai region of Nepal as part of a student fellowship, to de-centre access to the resources and enable cultural exchange.
After the project officially closes, the books will remain in Nepal as a resource for the arts community, and Siddhartha Arts Foundation will ensure that circulation will continue. Second copies of many materials collected in Nepal will be donated to AAA, enriching its representation of Nepal for international audiences.
Mobile Library is a periodic initiative organised in partnership with cultural collaborators in different countries throughout Asia—particularly those that are facing issues in the domain of arts infrastructure, censorship, and limited resources—to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas. Initiated in 2011 at Sàn Art in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, the project was further developed in Sri Lanka in partnership with Raking Leaves in 2013, followed by Myanmar in partnership with Myanmar Art Resource Center and Archive (MARCA) from 2014 to 2015.
During the course of each project, AAA initiated a series of programmes around the material to build contextual discourse with local partners. By referencing non-western art histories, the materials in the library expanded the curriculum at arts universities in Sri Lanka, and bridged connections between arts universities and the artistic community in Myanmar. The project was foundational in catalysing MARCA and the Sri Lanka Archive of Contemporary Art, Architecture and Design.
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