We always have a preconceived notion of what a place is going to look like before visiting. Not going to lie, I did a search about Heidelberg before coming and obviously, the image of the old town popped up. I have been living in Kathmandu my whole life and only roamed around Nepal and India. So, I didn’t know what to expect. Though we had so much materials and stuff to read, experiencing through your body and senses is something else.
Throughout our excursion, I felt that Heidelberg had so many layers fabricated. And got hints of how the city was, is and going to be. It’s interesting to see how cities are built by a collective of different people with their own beliefs and ideologies that shape a city. Even though we were there for a short period of time, small habits built within the city shaped a system and its people. As simple as walking, how in Nepal walking seems like a task but in Germany walking was the holy grail. The way we started exploring the city was through walking since the first day. I stopped now and then, looking into details, the shape of the plants, patterns on the walls, and distance between houses to the sky. Every nook and corner became visible as well as every little life going on within. Walking feels like flowing with time and is so grounding. And adding learning to it was a whole new experience of the city.
Learning from the experts as well as listening to our friends introduced me to multiple perspectives of things. Our group was so diverse in terms of where we came from, backgrounds and study majors that brought different narratives together. They made the experience feel much more familiar and warm. It felt like I was exploring and learning through their lenses as well.
We began with the stumbling stones that were like a marker or remembrance of the presence within a time. We had a conversation about “how the city remembers its people ” and “What type of history we choose to show.” It was like a mundane reminder to the walkers. There were so many things and questions came about what history was like and should they be reminded of the past they don’t want to remember?
Then I started noticing more and more of the details within the city. Like the small notes on the houses, relief sculptures, numbers and names of the houses they belong to. The houses felt like a character waving to me and the Motifs were like emotions. Looking into the wall you get a hint what type of person is living there and the presence of people who were there years ago. Every lesson we were learning reminded me of how a human or animal loves to mark their territories, and weaves a place to feel belonged. I gravitated towards the ground alot when we were exploring co-housing ideas and public spaces. I was thinking, is it because we are attached to the ground? Like a plant root grasping in the soil.
A man-made city is a concoction of things and has its own flaws and beauty. The arts and aesthetic of it, makes us aware of it and makes us aware of things we normally wouldn’t recognise. Heideberg has established itself as a knowledge city and the university being connected with community and people, made it more happening. Watching the students, building their own community and committing to the idea was inspiring.
Atlast, the city left some kind of mark within me and hopefully I left something there too (not my luggage though). Somehow in the short time, I tried to soak myself and walk the city within my body. There are so many memories and conversations we had stored in it. Lastly, somehow I wrote this on my note while walking there and it says “Here nobody is here to speak because no-one lives here”. How would a city be without humans?
“ Why am I here?”, for me, to create is like getting closer to the answer of it. As I became conscious of existing in this reality, my body became the prime subject of my art-making process. I grew up in Kathmandu, where the hustle and bustle are so prominent, and the mundanity that life provides has become my peace and solace. And that solace has pushed me to create more. Like small moments in life, as small as raindrops touching my skin. The consciousness of being here, surrounded by the relationships we build and the space we choose to be in, influences me a lot. I like to flow with my ideas and choose the medium that best suits them. But currently working with threads and beige linen clothes has been my main. Stitching the fabric pieces has been feeling like stitching long-lost feelings and traces that I want to collect. For my studies, I am pursuing my Masters's Degree in Fine Arts at Kathmandu University, School of Arts, Department of Art and Design, which is helping me push my limits as an artist. And I am also working part-time as an art teacher at Kalaalaya, Shreegha, Kathmandu which has been a breath of fresh air to see students explore their creativity.