If you have been to Durbarmarg, Keshar Mahal, Thapathali or Maitidevi areas in Kathmandu, you may have seen electric poles covered in weaved bamboos resembling our traditional dokos (baskets). This may seem unusual. But says artist Kailash K Shrestha, the project “I’m You” was started with the goal of making our public spaces more interesting and intriguing. In this, he works in collaboration with artisans Chhabi Bahadur Shrestha, Narayan Shrestha and Ganga Bahadur Shrestha.
A native of Dolakha who has been living in Kathmandu for a long time, Shrestha was always confused about his identity. After the 2015 earthquake, he went back to his hometown to discover himself. He recalled carrying doko back in his village and was always mesmerized by its weaving patterns. He says, “Our identity is like doko’s, slowly disappearing in the mist of modernism. I started this project to revive our old traditions and help people recover from the post-quake trauma.”
In our day to day life, seldom do we stop and look around us to see what’s new. The public space no longer seems so public. Shrestha wants people to start noticing things around them again, and using art to bring these public spaces back to life. “People have the misconception that art is limited to drawings, paintings, and sculptures. But this is a false impression,” he says. “Art can be created from anything and everything. From the clothes we wear to the way food is served.”
Shrestha plans is to initiate street art projects all over Nepal, using the medium to reach out to the communities and give them important socio-political messages. “Art has taught me to live a gratifying life, face challenges, and to endlessly experiment,” he says.
Though the artist runs the project single-handedly, he believes he could produce ‘national assets’ even with a little government help.