The human race has littered on Mars, so it should come as no surprise that Mount Everest has also fallen under a layer of refuse. But, unlike Mars, the trash on Everest is being collected and turned into art.
The Mount Everest-8848 Art Project I was started by The Art Club of Nepal, a branch of the Kathmandu-based art events and research company Da Mind Tree (DMT). The project was established to take the tons (yes, tons) of trash left by the thousands of climbers who have tackled Everest, and turn it into museum treasure. The objects, which include empty cans, cups, tents, air tanks, and even the wreckage of a helicopter, were collected by porters organized by the Everest Summiteers Association (ESA), an association of climbers who have successfully conquered Everest. The trash was transported via yak in the spring of 2011 and again in 2012.
The ESA then donated the trash to The Art Club of Nepal, which then went out and gathered artists to begin the transformation process. “We gathered 15 visual artists and 4 guest artists from different [media],” said Kripa Rana Shahi, director of DMT and a founding member of The Art Club of Nepal. “We decided to provide them a platform where they could come together, share their ideas and create sculptures from the waste materials.”
This is the first project DMT and The Art Club of Nepal have initiated, says Shahi, so “we decided it [would] be a homegrown event by involving only Nepali artists and sponsors. But in the future, we do plan to invite foreign artist’s sponsors and volunteers to be involved in our projects.”
The organization prefers the term “upcycling” to recycling when referring to the process of turning the trash into art. “Recycling is not an organized sector in Nepal,” said Shahi. “There are recycling plants for plastic and paper and not metals. Thus, upcycling is a better way to manage the waste materials, at least for this project.”
The Art Club of Nepal’s work is on display at the Hotel Shangrila in Kathmandu through Thursday, according to the project’s Web site. There are no plans to bring the exhibit to the United States, but not for lack of desire.
“If there are sponsors and curators willing to collaborate with us,” said Shahi, “we are definitely very open and willing to taking this exhibition to any country in the world.”