Collecting Loss and Displaying Absence: Curating the Earthquake
The physical impact of a natural disaster such as the major earthquake in Nepal in 2015 is immediately visible: lost lives, displaced people, destroyed houses and a shattered cultural heritage. However, the longer-term impact of such an event is less apparent. With greater distance to the actual disaster, references to ‘loss’ become increasingly formalised and curated, today we can see that ‘loss’ is half way between memory and memorialisation.
This paper takes up the challenge to explore various practices of memorialisation after natural disasters. Whether guided by western ideology, community practice, or elites, the ideal of world heritage and post-colonial trajectories have profoundly influenced how we remember disasters and relate to them in public space. By analysing how loss was curated and is planned to be curated in Nepal, this paper contributes to the museum studies discourse of collecting loss and displaying absence.