NexUs hides in an unimpressive alley in Lalitpur, the city of the arts, with hundreds of art lovers visiting the place every year, hearing about it from friends and attracted by its fame. At first sight, you may not find anything special, however, you should walk inside the garden and experience it by yourself once, then you will find the magic of it.
Walking into the garden, first thing you notice will all be the old stuff—ropy chairs and recycled wheels and bikes being the seats for guests— and also, the lights made out of grass. Re-used tables are everywhere. Nothing there is new, but they are all brand new in another way, because they are all handmade by Nepali artists and local residents with converted material, endowing the furniture with new meaning of art and action.
AshminaRanjit, a leading conceptual performance artist and pusher of post-modernism in contemporary Nepali art, was one core member of the team who created NexUs. Naming her project artivism (art + activism), she was dedicated in practicing her own definition of the notion of art in any form. “NexUs is one of the experiments of the art concept of LASANAA. We are now still making efforts to polish it.” (LASANAA is an artivist organization that began in 2007. Its main agenda is social reform through art. They seek to have the art community be more involved with social issues.)
As an art community, NexUs provide a collaborative community space that uses artivism as a tool to sensitize the public towards socio-political issues, promoting critical thought, inspiring positive social change, holistic sustainability, and inclusivity through art and literature. It also is recognized as a social enterprise.
Various forms of activities can be found at NexUs. Open mic night (every Tuesday), movie night (every Thursday), and sometimes, book reading and conversation, night market, and exhibitions. Good coffee and organic food are also served in NexUs. Additionally, there is a residency program in NexUs, which might not be luxury, but must be worthwhile. “The main idea of NexUs is breaking your comfort zone, in a way to find something different from your ordinary life. It may not be the place for those who enjoy 5-start hotel facilities, which are anyway always the same.” Live in NexUs for some days, and you will be able to make friends with people from different fields and learn a lot. It has diverse workshops and classes, from digital design to sound engineering, watercolors, and writing.
Started just one month before the earthquake in 2015, NexUs and its founding group have been through many challenges and changes. It has been faced with financial and piracy problems, and it was once a healing place for refugees after the earthquake, and then generally grew up to be a mature art community. Nevertheless, the basic concept of NexUs has never changed, which is to try to bring positive influence on society. “First, we came up with this concept, and then we took action to practice and achieve it. With this specific concept, we can do much more in the future.”