• Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Monica Jahan Bose: Stories and saris

Fayza Haq
Village women print with blocks on the saris.
Village women print with blocks on the saris.

Monica Jahan Bose aims at capturing attention for a cause. Bangladeshis have seen Bose's skill and motivational art earlier at the Alliance Francaise-- where she presented her symbolic work.
 Her ongoing exhibition runs from July 19 - August 9, at the EMK Centre (Level 9- Midas Centre), No 5. Road 27 (old). The special guests on this occasion included Dr. Saleemul Huq, director International Centre for Climate Change and Development; art critic, Moinuddin Khaled, Dhaka City College; Enayetullah Khan, chairman Cosmos Group and Gallery: Rafiqul Islam, Liberation War Museum (moderator).
 Slogans tend to fade but Bose's call to action surely cannot fade. Since the mid-90s she has promoted in her trademark style the Language Movement. This is by making the women of the twice cyclone ravaged island of Katakhali, Patuakhli, appear as heroic. A definite feminist, she explores women's sexuality by painting the sari -- blouse attire --symbolising women's oppression. She uses the Bangla script as an affirmation of universal literacy. She has worked at literacy and health projects of the women of Katakhali for 13 years. Using sari as an artistic material, she mingles political art with universal literacy.  
Bose stands up for the rights of poor women and their families, by working in this non-profit Bangladesh-American project her mother founded in 1984. She strives to create awareness of the spectre of climate change that causes cyclones and rising sea levels.
Bose has stood up for the rights of these impoverished women through photography. Her words are her direct experience of her ancestral village home. Bose's strong feelings arise from her close contact with the women and children of the community. These women also go for alternate planting of vegetables as salinity due to the cyclones has ruined the island's economy.
Bose's aim is to project her artwork collaboration with the 12 Patuakhali, Samhati women she has worked with. As a follow up, she wants to make a performance art with installation.
She uses blocks to signify the reading and writing ability, blocks she has made in the US, and which she helped to make on the island Patuakhali. A common thread binds Bose and the Katakhali women. These prints have been shared by people visiting the galleries of Washington and New York, as well as Bangladesh.


Bose has also collaborated with the Bangladesh born -US filmmaker, Nandita Ahmed, whom she met in the US. The women wore saris imprinted with 24 blocks. The saris being the heart of Bose's work are hung and draped. A strip of sari symbolises women's liberation and empowerment, made eye-catching by the loud basic colours used. The red, pink and white in the saris symbolise fertility. Her ambition is to have the audience empathise with the resilient, courageous women of Katakhali.

Published: 12:00 am Monday, July 21, 2014

Last modified: 5:58 pm Tuesday, August 05, 2014

TAGS: Saris Monica Jehan Bose

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