Value: Visualizing the Cost of Violence
A Public Art Installation
At Basantapur, Hanuman Dhoka, Kathmandu
November 17 - 20, 2001
Value is an artwork that compares how much rice can be purchased with the same amount of money that it costs to buy a rifle. To visualize this measurement, a pyramid of dhan - rice in its husk - was created, and a replica of the rifle was placed on top of the mound.
Value was conceived in response to all conflicts where firearms are used to settle disputes. It dramatizes how precious resources are diverted from society and draws attention to the emotional toll of violence in communities around the world. Value is a memorial to the victims and a means to stimulate dialogue towards the peaceful resolution of conflicts, including the one that has clouded Nepal's future. The recent tragedy of the Royal family demonstrates how gun-related violence has reached all strata of Nepali society.
In remembrance, the names of those who have died are exhibited on the mound of dhan to initiate the healing process. Visitors were encouraged to publicly express personal and collective grief through lighting oil lamps and burning incense.
In the second phase of this installation, the dhan was put into jute sacks of various sizes and marked with the names of other countries torn apart by armed struggle. The sacks were then stacked to create a new, commemorative mound. This time, the replica rifle was laid on the side of the mound to symbolize the end of violence.
In Value, dhan is used as a metaphor for peace and regeneration. This artwork is inspired by the poetry of my grandfather, Dharani Dhar Koirala, who anguished over Nepal's destiny fifty years ago:
Nepal your smiling face
Would I see it or die without
This is the worry that aches my heart
Towards hope or despair.
Through an accompanying banner, Value incorporates these poetic lines to build upon the ideas of peaceful, social change that were pioneered by an earlier generation of Nepali activists. In contrast to the mound, which is a temporary installation, the 72 x 66 inch, digitally printed banner, is a permanent component of this artwork.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City - Informal Sector Service Center [INSEC] - Artists' Society of Nepal
Human Rights Organisation of Nepal - Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square Conservation Program
Value Video on YouTube