Dhaka Art Summit: Bonna
The Dhaka Art Summit is an international non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia. This years’ Summit will feature a diverse range of Bangladeshi, South Asian and international artists, with 85% of participants hailing from the global majority world and its diasporas. This edition presents the widest range of artworks from across Bangladesh in the Summit’s history, with over 160 participants, 50% of whom are women and over 60% who hail from Bangladesh.
Here are a few highlights:
The Summit seeks to re-examine how we think about these art forms in a regional and wider context, with a focus on Bangladesh. This year’s edition titled Bonna, meaning ‘flood’ and a girl’s name in Bengali, will bring together a diverse array of artists and collectives to explore Bangladesh’s nuanced relationship to words and water.
The Foundation’s Founding Artistic Director and the Founding Chief Curator of DAS, Diana Campbell, has since 2013 developed the Summit into one of the world’s leading curatorial platforms and sites for artistic production, in collaboration with its growing number of local and international partners. Exemplifying the Foundation’s wider mission, central to the 2023 edition of DAS will be Very Small Feelings, an exhibition and platform co-produced by the Samdani Art Foundation and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Delhi. Co-curated by Campbell and guest curator Akansha Rastogi (Senior Curator at KNMA) with Ruxmini Choudhury (Assistant Curator, Samdani Art Foundation), the exhibition conceptually follows Chittaprosad Bhattacharya’s (1915-1978) prompt to ‘tell a story’. It will bring together voices from Bangladesh, India and the global diaspora, inviting artists to draw on the power of telling and retelling stories.
A suite of works by Joydeb Roaja will revisit his traumatic childhood memories growing up in the Tripura community from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, seeing army boot prints on the hills and tanks haunting his dreams. Generation Wish Yielding Trees (2009 onwards) began as a performance with his daughter, and the works are now presented as photo-drawing collage prints.
Home (2022-23), a participatory performance by Yasmin Jahan Nupur in collaboration with the Bagri Foundation, creates a space for conversations around childhood memories and stories around places, landscapes and people. It is a place where visitors can express individual and collective memories as she searches for sights, smells and sounds that recall her ancestral village in Bangladesh. Invoking the power of imagination and exchange, the Belly of the Strange (2023) by Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty creates a transactional space, housing books that take us into the world of stories and illustrations for children and the child within us. Its large dreamlike structure, looming above the ground on multiple legs, summons different oralities, gestures and movements, confronting visitors of DAS with new and strange forms and ideas.
DAS strives to engender meaningful engagement with Bangladesh amongst the participating international artists. Engaging with contextual materials, Antony Gormley will collaborate with a team of Bangladeshi artisans to create TURN (2022-23), a ‘drawing in space’ made from 2.5km of bundled bamboo. An explosion of line, TURN invites viewers to transform its sinuous materiality into movement as they duck and twist through this looping entanglement. Temporary in nature, this dynamic field of energy evokes the shapeshifting journey of bamboo in Bangladesh – and will be recycled into other forms after the Summit.
Miet Warlop will present Chant for Hope (2022-23), a participatory sculpture created in collaboration with KANAL – Centre Pompidou, Brussels. A group of performers will sculpt a series of words in Bengali by flooding moulds with plaster, creating moving sculptures that find new meanings as they are danced, sung and passed across the visitors of the Summit.
The Samdani Art Award will present new works by 12 emerging Bangladeshi artists who reflect on social, economic and ecological concerns in the midst of one of the most difficult climatic periods for South Asia.
Akansha Rastogi is Senior Curator of Exhibitions and Programming at the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in New Delhi, India. She has been part of the core instituting team of the museum since 2011. As a creative practitioner, she is the founding member of artist collective WALA (formed in 2009), and is intensely involved with many artists-led initiatives and forums in New Delhi. Akansha’s exhibitions, ‘Hangar for the Passerby’ (2017), ‘Zones of Contact/Grazing’ (2013), ‘Inhabiting the Museum’ (2011-15) and ‘Archiving the Studio’ (2011) have been ingenious for their curatorial thinking, approaches and conceptual rigour. Each one positioning and imagining contemporary art museum space in South Asia as an incremental site for the undigested materials and histories. She served as associate curator of India Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale (2019).
Dhaka Art Summit: Bonna
Location: The Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka
Duration: 3 February – 11 February