Biennale of Sydney

ArTree Nepal

ArTree Nepal, Not less expensive than gold, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Open Society Foundations. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
Artree Nepal, Culture of Silence, 2016 (video still), protest performance. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Kireet Rajbhandari, Manoj Kaji Maharjan, Anil Lama, Sanam Tamang and Vijaya Bhandari
ArTree Nepal, Not less expensive than gold, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Open Society Foundations. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
ArTree Nepal, Not less expensive than gold, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Open Society Foundations. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Zan Wimberley.
ArTree Nepal, Not less expensive than gold, 2020. Installation view for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020), Cockatoo Island. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Open Society Foundations. Courtesy the artists. Photograph: Alex Robinson

ArTree Nepal
Formed 2013 in Kathmandu, Nepal
Live and work in Kathmandu, Nepal


The herbs found in Nepal at an altitude of 3000 metres and above are considered rich in natural chemicals. Ironically, those medicinal plants, which people have been using for hundreds, if not thousands, of years have now become export goods, while 80-90 per cent of the drugs used by locals are imported. Increasingly, in most of the developing countries, basic needs like health, education and transportation are being systematically privatised and commercialised. Health services and medical education are unaccountably expensive. Only five percent of the population in Nepal can afford to pursue a Bachelor of Medicine or Surgery. In most rural areas, because of a lack of proper infrastructure, people have to travel long distances to the capital for even basic treatment.”

Not less expensive than gold approaches multiple concerns that are urgent for this collective. Their actions and objects express the frustration of erasure and disintegration of Indigenous, ethnic, communal and shamanistic medicinal and healing practices in Nepal. These natural processes continue to be both denigrated as ‘alternative medicine’ or ‘pseudoscience’, while also commercially exploited as exports. The work also presents video works documenting performative and peaceful actions of resistance towards the commercialised medical industry. These video’s document solidarity with Dr. Govinda KC, a surgeon and activist who has undertaken hunger strikes in order for a better health system and non-privatised medical education in Nepal. The bodies of performers bare the words of his manifesto.

ArTree Nepal practices contemporary art with the belief that art has deep roots in social practice. The mainstream narrative of Nepal and its surrounding region have excluded the stories and experiences of numerous marginalised, underprivileged and Indigenous communities. Although there have been, and continue to be, major political changes and demands for an equal representation of diverse identities, cultures, languages and religions, these have been consistently and strategically oppressed. By consciously using political and pre-colonial vocabularies, ArTree's collective and individual practices draw attention to these problematic social hierarchies and invasive international influences.

Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Open Society Foundations. Courtesy the artists.

Participating artists:

Lavkant Chaudhary

Born 1988 in Sarlahi, Nepal
Lives and work in Kathmandu, Nepal

Hit Man Gurung
Born 1986 in Lamjung, Nepal
Lives and work in Kathmandu, Nepal

Mekh Limbu
Born 1985 in Dhankuta, Nepal
Lives and work in Kathmandu, Nepal

Sheelasha Rajbhandari
Born 1988 in Kathmandu, Nepal
Lives and work in Kathmandu, Nepal

Subas Tamang
Born 1990 in Amardaha, Nepal
Lives and work in Kathmandu, Nepal

Exhibited at

Exhibited Artwork

Artree Nepal, Not less expensive than gold, 2020, mixed-media installation. Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney with generous support from Open Society Foundations Courtesy the artists

Photograph: Zan Wimberley

Location: Cockatoo Island