‘Ma Ko Hoon? -Who am I?’ is a search, a moment of self-reflection, an assertion, a reiteration and also an aspiration. During the month-long residency at PhotoKTM in Nawalpur, Kawasoti, I led an inquiry into ‘Ma Ko Hoon-Who am I?’ with learners in the age group of 10-17 years in the local schools. Using art to translate experiences of human connection, we delved deep into personal and social issues like adolescence, accessibility, gender and identity. Exercises like observing and drawing a friend’s portrait and then replacing the face in the drawing with an object they associate the friend with; mapping one’s own body contour while reflecting on ‘what does being big mean?’; story-boarding their experience of everyday life in a village; developing a self-portrait by concealing the face with a found object from their immediate surroundings led to candid conversations. The engagement revealed usually unnoticed or often denied details about their surrounding, personal desires & aspirations as 21st century individuals. It clearly reflected the shortcomings of an education system burdened by the colonial past and completely alienated from the environment at home or in the community. I acknowledged the self they revealed in the anecdotes they shared, their gestures and body language and even in their artworks. The residue of this art of connection in the form of drawings, photographs, zines and scrolls were later displayed in PhotoKTM5. During the festival, these imprints became moments of reminiscence , contemplation and collectivity for the visitors from different walks of life and distinct geographical locations.
The project was supported by PhotoKTM in collaboration with Jatayu Vulture Restaurant in Kawasoti, Nepal. During the month-long residency, I engaged with young learners in Pithauli Basic School and Shanti Nikunj Senior School, Kawasoti.