Nepal Picture Library at the 17th Istanbul Biennial

17 September – 20 November 2022


Project description

The Bagri Foundation is proud to support two projects stemmed from the work of the Nepal Picture Library as part of the 17th Istanbul Biennial: The Public Life of Women A Feminist Memory Project and In Time / On Ground

The Public Life of Women A Feminist Memory Project (2018-ongoing) maps the journey of Nepali women from within the boundaries of domesticity to the openness of public life is a move from obscurity to memory. This exhibition showcases materials gathered by Nepal Picture Library in its effort to create a dedicated women’s archive. It rides on the feminist impulse to memorialise women’s pasts in the belief that their historical visibility will advance the case for liberation. The multi-part exhibition under the scope of the Biennial is an act of willing Nepali women en masse into public memory. It flashes instances from the past when women have taken on political struggle, addressed assemblies, paved new paths through education, published and shaped opinion, travelled and described the world, become figures of authority, and broken social norms. What we see is a view of how publicness itself has emerged as a key feminist strategy in Nepal.

Initiated by a dialogue with Nepal Picture Library’s Feminist Memory Project, In Time / On Ground is conceived by Merve Elveren and Çağla Özbek in collaboration with The Women’s Library and Information Centre Foundation (WLICF). For the Biennial, Elveren and Özbek invited Ayşe Düzkan, Merve Kaptan, Zeynep Sayın, Dilek Winchester and Çatlak Zemin to respond to the archives of the Women’s Library, a hybrid and one-of-a-kind institution in Turkey, run since 1990 by the Istanbul Greater Municipality and the WLICF. Rather than rehearsing a chronology of the feminist movement in Turkey, In Time / On Ground modules focus on the library’s ‘miscellaneous’ folders – items thus far left on the margins of mainstream feminist narratives – and venture a ‘completion’ of this rich and vast collection dedicated to women’s histories. Dispersed across several biennial venues, the project proposes alternative readings on the feminist movement and aims to bring new momentum to an organisation long stretched between efforts to make its collection more accessible and the struggle to maintain its existence in a volatile political climate.

Curated by Ute Meta Bauer, Amar Kanwar and David Teh, the 17th Istanbul Biennial is organised by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) with the support of 2007-2026 Biennial Sponsor Koç Holding. The 17th Istanbul Biennial exhibitions will span over 50 venues, including collaborating bookstores, second-hand booksellers, hospitals, nursing homes, cafes, metro stops and a private radio station, in addition to 12 exhibition venues in the Beyoğlu, Kadıköy, Fatih and Zeytinburnu districts.

About the Nepal Picture Library

Nepal Picture Library (NPL) – established. 2011, operates in Kathmandu – is a digital photo archive run by that strives to create a broad and inclusive visual archive of Nepali social and cultural history. Since its inception, NPL has collected over 120,000 photographs from various private and organizational sources across Nepal. The archive serves as a safe and open repository for materials that can secure a multicultural and pluralist representation of Nepali history. It also functions as a medium for active public engagement through which Nepali people can deepen meaningful connections with the past. As part of its objective to create a visually dense version of Nepali history for and with public audiences, NPL has created a network of professionals with interest or specialized knowledge in museum design, preservation, curation, exhibition, graphic design, oral history, writing, education, ethnography, visual culture, media, art history, photography, and publishing.

About the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) 

The Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts (İKSV) has been organising the Istanbul Biennial since 1987. The biennial aims to create a meeting point in Istanbul, in the field of visual arts between artists from diverse cultures and the audience. The biennials İKSV has organised up to now have enabled the formation of an international cultural network between local and international art circles, artists, curators and art critics by bringing together new trends in contemporary art every two years.

Image credits: Sushila Shrestha shows the FMP team photographs from the biography she authored of Sahana Pradhan. Photo: Nepal Picture Library