A TREAT FOR EYES | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 07, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015



After the success of the first edition of the Dhaka Art Summit, Samdani Art Foundation returns with its second edition of Dhaka Art Summit starting from February 7, 2014.

2013 has been extremely rewarding in terms of hosting large-scale cultural festivals in our country. In an increasingly globalised world, cultural events like Bengal-ITC SRA Classical Music Festival and Hay festival have acted as a platform where experts from all over the world could come and celebrate each other's individuality through music, literature and art. Also these festivals offer people a chance to find some respite from their everyday life.
2014, as well, is starting off with an international standard art fiesta which prides itself in showcasing many talented artists and patrons from all corners of the globe, displaying the best and most progressive examples of contemporary art from South Asia.
The Samdani Art Foundation is organising the second edition of the Dhaka Art Summit starting from February 7-9, where Bangladesh as a host country has invited art and artists from South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Launched in 2012, the first edition of Dhaka Art Summit mainly focused on local artists and galleries and featured the works of 249 artists and 19 galleries.
This year this three- day fiesta is going to uncover a whole range of new gifts for the art lovers. “This year the carnival is much bigger than last year”, says Nadia Samdani, founder and director of Dhaka Art Summit and cofounder and president of the Samdani Art Foundation. “In our last edition we focused on our local art scene. But this year we are focusing on overall South Asia's vibrant contemporary art scene.”

The 2nd edition of the Summit will feature five exhibitions curated by local and international curators, 14 solo art projects, a city-wide public art project by internationally acclaimed Raqs Media Collective, screenings of experimental films, performances, and presentations by 33 local and international galleries including over 250 artists from across the South Asian Region. Several collateral exhibitions will take place around the city during the Dhaka Art Summit. Each of the 14 projects, commissioned and supported by the Samdani Art Foundation, and curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, has the Bangladeshi essence in it while maintaining an international outlook.
“this year we have artists of South Asian origin showcasing different form of art including  videos, paintings, drawings, sculptures performance works, text based works and what not, Nadia elaborates. “This year we are holding speakers' panels where people from different prestigious art centers and museums like Centre Pompidou and Guggenheim Museum will be sharing their thoughts with us.  We are hosting leading global thinkers and guests who will be taking part in a series of talks on themes like institutional collecting and support for art and curatorial innovation. Two additional panel discussions will include a cross-generational panel of Bangladeshi artists reflecting on the country's contemporary art scene, as well as a group of visionary artists and curators who have developed significant art institutions in South Asia.”
The Samdani Foundation believes that this art summit will work as an extensive platform for artist ranging from award winning big names to up-and-coming talents. To inspire the promising artists the foundation also offers bi-annual Samdani Art Award. “This year, the Samdani Art Foundation has collaborated with the Delfina Foundation (UK) to award an exceptionally talented young Bangladeshi artist the opportunity to attend a three-month residency at the Delfina Foundation in London,” says Nadia excitedly. An international jury board consisting of notable names like Aaron Cezar, Eungie Joo, Jessica Morgan, Sandhini Poddar and Pooja Sood is in charge of selecting the winner.

Nadia Samdani
Nadia Samdani

This biennial non-commercial art festival is committed to bring out the love for art in everyone living in the chaos of this city. To make this event accessible to everyone the organisers offer all the sessions free and open to the public. “Apart from having international institutions, museums and curators to attend this fest, we also want the local audience of Bangladesh to come and discover our art,” says Nadia. “Last time we had over 50,000 visitors visit the summit, this year we are expecting more. In fact we are introducing guided tour for kids. On our last day of the festival we have invited above 1200 students from around 26 schools to visit this summit. While taking the tour the experts will be explaining different art pieces and will turn the world of art alive in front of them so that our next generation also feels attached to our culture” says Nadia optimistically.
Claimed to be the largest art fiesta in South Asia, this event is utilising an area of 120,000 sq.ft of Dhaka Shilpakala Academy. A dedicated team consisted of experts from different fields and nationalities, is working day and night to convert this area into a world class exhibition space “The job of being the host of an international standard festival is very hard and challenging”, says Nadia. “We have left it to the professionals to handle various aspects of this festival who have been working on this for last one and a half year. We have seven internationally acclaimed curators who have given their wise decision in everything starting from selecting the artists and their content to their method of display,” Nadia comments.

“Art does not need to be in any geographical boundary, the language of art is universal. We want to reflect this in our work as well. Each of our projects is so elaborative that for a 3 day event we have shifted to our venue Shilpakala Academy 45 days back.  We are working so hard that at the end of the day we can present a festival which can motivate and delight the attendees, at the same time they can enjoy full comfort.”
Nadia believes summits like this increases global interest in this part of the world. Many of the international collectors, museums, galleries and auction houses are flocking to this region to experience the Dhaka Art Summit. “Our vibrant art and photography undoubtedly merit more visits from international art doyens,” Nadia comments. “The catalogue that we are designing for this summit is being edited by the Iniva foundation.  This British art institution is also responsible for distributing this catalogue worldwide. This way through this bi-annual summit we are trying to put Bangladesh in the world art map.”
In the era of Google, now we are just a click away to enjoy a piece of artwork of any artist we love. But interacting with paintings, installations or sculptures and seeing them up close is a one of a kind experience which we cannot have sitting in our home. Like Nadia Samdani says, “it is hard to put in words what each of this project intends to portray. You need to come, see and experience it.”
To know more about the art summit, visit http://www.dhakaartsummit.org/


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