Value: Visualizing the Cost of Violence, Kathmandu 2001

Value: Visualizing the Cost of Violence, Kathmandu  2001

Basantapur, Hunnuman Dhoka, Kathmandu

Value: Visualizing the Cost of Violence compared how much rice could be purchased with the same amount of money that it costs to buy an M-16 rifle. To visualize this measurement, a pyramid of dhan – rice in its husk – was created and a replica rifle placed on top of the mound.

Value was conceived in response to conflicts where firearms are used to settle disputes. It dramatizes how precious resources are diverted from society and the emotional toll of violence in communities world-wide. Value was a memorial to the victims and a means to stimulate dialogue advocating the peaceful resolution of conflicts, including the civil war that clouded Nepal’s future.

In remembrance and to initiate the healing process, the names and ages of the Nepali people who lost their lives was displayed on the dhan. Visitors were encouraged to publicly express personal and collective grief through the lighting of oil lamps and burning of incense.

In the second phase of the 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 stacked to create a new, commemorative mound. This time, the replica rifle was placed on the ground, symbolizing the laying down of arms and the end of violence.

This installation was inspired by the poetry of my grandfather, Dharani Dhar Koirala, who anguished over Nepal’s destiny over fifty years ago, and wrote these lines:

Nepal your smiling face
Would I see it or die without
That is the worry that pains my heart
Towards hope or despair

This excerpt appeared on the banner, which formed the backdrop to the installation.

Making of Value: Visualizing the Cost of Violence, Kathmandu 2001