Spotlight: Nepalese Artist Subash Thebe Limbu’s Award-Winning New Film Explores Time Travel Through an Indigenous Lens

'Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous' (2023) was recently awarded the Grand Prix by the Hyundai Motor Group's annual VH Award.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

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What You Need to Know: Earlier this month, the Hyundai Motor Group announced Nepalese artist Subash Thebe Limbu as the Grand Prix recipient of the 5th annual VH Award—the premier award for new media artists in Asia. Alongside works by the four finalists, Zike He, Riar Rizaldi, Su Hui-Yu, and zzyw (sic), Subash Thebe Limbu’s piece Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023) had its premier screening at the virtual award ceremony. Each of the finalists received grants to produce new artworks, as well as an opportunity to participate in an online residency program held by Eyebeam. As the Grand Prix winner, Subash Thebe Limbu received an additional grant. Beyond the initial screening, all five finalists’ works will be screened in museum and cultural destinations around the world including at HMG Vision Hall in Yongin, South Korea; Elektra Virtual Museum in Montreal, Canada; Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria, and Museum MACAN in Jakarta, Indonesia. Art Director of Hyundai Motor DooEun Choi said of the present iteration of the award, “With the 5th VH Award, Hyundai Motor Group celebrates the diversity and creativity of media artists around the world who engage with the context of Asia and share the Group’s vision of coming ‘together for a better future. These emerging artists have broadened our perspectives on the future of humanity and enabled us to blur any boundaries through their distinctive, cross-cultural practices.”

About the Artist: Hailing from eastern Nepal, Subash Thebe Limbu (b. 1981) is part of the Tibeto-Burman indigenous people of Yakthung (Limbu). Working across sound, film, music, performance, painting, and podcasts, the artist’s multidisciplinary practice is largely inspired by socio-political issues and themes of migration, climate change, indigeneity, and speculative fiction. Based between Kathmandu and London, Subash Thebe Limbu received their BFA from Middlesex University in 2011, and MFA from Central Saint Martins in 2016. Tapping their own background and experiences, the artist envisions new worlds and timelines, creating “science fiction through an indigenous lens.” Storytelling and narrative are core elements of their work, inviting the viewer to consider variable futures and question the trajectory and understanding of time within the context of culture.

Subash Thebe Limbu, Grand Prix recipient of the 5th VH Award. Courtesy of the artist.

Subash Thebe Limbu, Grand Prix recipient of the 5th VH Award. Courtesy of the artist.

Why We Like It: Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023) presents a hypothetical scenario in which two indigenous people from two different timelines—one a 16th-century Yakthung warrior and the other an astronaut or time traveler from the future—having a conversation. Discussing their respective temporal contexts and their places within them, viewers are presented with the opportunity to reflect on their own milieu and position within the space-time continuum. Of the 14:51 minute film, Subash Thebe Limbu said, “This work plays with the idea of time as not something rigid but ductile or weavable, which in turn paves the way for questions like how we might want to weave the future.” The film offers the chance to consider the role we as individuals as well as a collective have in shaping the future and take into account how our actions—or inaction—can ultimately shape the trajectory of our current timelines. Using time as a core thematic and narrative element allows Subash Thebe Limbu to craft an open-ended proposition on the malleability of the future.

See stills from Subash Thebe Limbu, Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023) below.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from <i>Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous</i> (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from <i>Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous</i> (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from <i>Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous</i> (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

Subash Thebe Limbu, still from Ladhamba Tayem; Future Continuous (2023). Courtesy of Hyundai Motor Group VH Award.

Learn more about the VH Award presented by Hyundai Motor Studio here.


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