1st KIAF

Posted on:Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Separating Myth from Reality – Status of Women

“Though I have been living in isolation for 20 years, the news about the Kathmandu International Art Festival drew me out my Hermitage.”
Manuj Babu Mishra, Senior Nepalese artist

The 1st Kathmandu International Art Festival was held from October 30 – November 10, 2009.

‘Separating Myth from Reality – Status of Women’ was spread across 6 venues in the Kathmandu Valley. The 11-day Festival presented artworks by 111 artists from 25 countries. It was attended by more than 5000 visitors and included a 3-day symposium.

The Festival was inaugurated by former Living Goddess Rashmila Shakya, who in the Nepali context personified the exhibition’s theme on the ‘status of women’. Revered and worshipped as a virgin goddess, former Kumaris struggle to cope with normal life outside their temple once they are replaced by another young prepubescent girl.


“We consider the Dutch participation in ‘Separating Myth from Reality’ as an extraordinary project we’ve supported.”
The Mondriaan Foundation, The Netherlands

Dutch artist Desiree de Baar painted the portraits of the former Kumari on the walls of the gallery as a part of her artwork. Finnish photographer Dr. Leena Saraste showed images of Afghani women holding guns and marching, while US photographer Thomas Kelly exhibited his pictures of prostitution and trafficking of young girls in Nepal. Anoli Perera from Sri Lanka put female dolls on a pedestal of consumerism and commented on the depiction of women in media.

The 3-day symposium had 9 presenters consisting of national and international artists, critics and writers who delved deeper into the theme of the Festival and also presented analyses of art trends in their respective nations.


“…it is imperative to know and mention that this event will go down in history of Nepalese art…”
Seema Kohli, India, Participant of 1st Kathmandu International Art Festival

The Festival was a success at various levels. It received extensive coverage locally and internationally as it was the first of its kind in Kathmandu. Locally, it was an important achievement because it gave an opportunity to Nepali artists and the public to witness and examine contemporary artworks from all over the world. For Nepali artists who can’t afford to visit galleries abroad, the Festival played an important role to bring artworks to Nepal.

“It was an eye-opening experience for me,” shared local artist and teacher at Kathmandu University Center for Art & Design, Sushma Shakya. “It made me realize where we, Nepalese artists, stand in the global context and that we really need to put in a lot more effort in our artworks.”