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Nepal’s first 360 degree virtual contemporary art exhibition

Screenshot of the Museum of Nepali Art webpage.

Check out Global Voices’ special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 outbreak that has engulfed the world has not only affected Nepal's health sector but it has also brought all cultural activities to a halt.

Nepal extended its lockdown measures until June 2, and all cinema halls and theatres are closed. However, for art enthusiasts forced to spend most of their time at home, Nepal’s first virtual art exhibition can be explored from the comfort of their homes.

Created by 19 renowned Nepali artists, the artwork is being showcased in an online virtual exhibition named ‘Tangential Stress’ by the Museum of Nepali Art (MoNA). By definition, it means a force acting in a generally horizontal direction especially, invisible energy that produces mountain folding and over thrusting. The original versions of the artwork in the collection can be seen at MoNA’s gallery in Kathmandu Guest House.

‘Tangential Stress’ features work by leading Nepali artists such as Batsa Gopal Baidya, Erina Tamrakar, Rajani Singkhwal, Manish Lal Shrestha, and more. A full list of the artists involved can be found here.

According to Rajan Sakya, the exhibition curator and director of MoNA:

Most people [facing the stress due to COVID-19] have absorbed and tolerated these unseen energies, coping and reacting accordingly. These energies have emitted in many ways for many people; some have gained weight, some have lost weight, some have exercised, some have become couch potatoes, some have become selfish, some have helped other people, and these “Nepalese ARTISTS” have expressed themselves in colors, strokes and mediums.

This exhibition, entitled “Tangential Stress”, is a paroxysm of emotions, hoping we become less complacent, more appreciative of our nature and life, and teaching us humility.

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Why did it take a pandemic to make us realize who the real life heroes are ?? People have been blindly idolizing celebrities and influencers with a few thousand social media followers. The superficiality of it all !!! Medics don’t even have time to be on social media … they are busy doing the “real work.” . . “This painting is a portrayal of a real-life female doctor who shouldered the responsibility of saving lives. A mother of a 6-month-old child leaves the safety of her house and her love for her newborn, to save someone else’s. What do we call this kind of selflessness? The artist, Pramila Bajracharya dedicates this painting to all the fearless health workers who risk their life for someone else’s.” . . Covid 19 has made us realize to NOT idolize people who are working only to boost themselves all the time …but to give more RESPECT to those selfless souls serving humanity … . . Do look at the first online MONA exhibition presenting Covid lockdown expressions from Nepal’s top contemporary artists. . . insta – @museum_of_nepali_art FB – Museum of Nepali Art visit www.mona.com.np for 360 virtual tour !!! ……Thank you !!! #museumofnepaliart #tangentialstress #firstexhibition #onlineart #kathmanduguesthouse

A post shared by Museum of Nepali Art (MoNA) (@museum_of_nepali_art) on

In the foreword for the exhibition, Dr. John Clarke, curator of the Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art and Victoria & Albert Museum in the UK, writes:

The local cost of the virus and lockdown to the people of Nepal are echoed in several works yet the global nature of the pandemic is also often featured.

One of the participating artists, Ranju Yadav, conceived her second child last October, and has been struggling to protect herself and her baby from the coronavirus. She mentioned:

[…] millions of pregnant women, including me, have been in a close fight with the Corona Virus [sic] by shielding and taking care of their own wombs.

As a pregnant artist, I depict the above-mentioned idea in my Mithila artwork. The pregnant woman in the artwork is protecting her unborn baby by covering the womb by her hands. She dares not to wear a mask because she has to take double breathe [sic] for herself and her baby. […]

When will audiences visit cultural spaces, art galleries, and theatres again? No one has the answer to this question yet. But, in this time of uncertainty, these Nepali artists are just a click away.

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