Dhaka Art Summit 2018 (DAS) entered centre stage in the art world once more with a call to embrace the plurality and heterogeneity of artistic expressions. The world's largest platform for South Asian Art, organised by Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), has caught the attention of art lovers far and wide. A number of world renowned curators, artists, architects, academics, connoisseurs, critics, collectors and aficionados have flocked together at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy to enjoy an array of thought-provoking artistic expressions -- be it research-based curated exhibitions, interactive talks and of course the multitude phrases and languages of contemporary South, Southeast Asian and global arts.
SAF awards the annual Samdani Art and Architecture Awards at the DAS to promising Bangladeshi contemporary artists working on new media and architectural designs from various Bangladeshi institutes. This year is no exception. Commissioned and produced by SAF for DAS 2018, the selected arts and architectures are on display at the venue.
Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury received the Samdani Art Award 2018 for his complex work “The Soul Who Fails to Fly into the Space”. Mizan, an alumnus of the Department of Printmaking, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, has used mixed media, video installation, moving sculpture, plastic chairs, one channel video, grass cutting machine, motor, plastic fan, golden ribbons, magazines and more to project his artistic contemplation. The collective representation of works signifies Mizan's efforts of making the spiritual entity (The Soul) to seek the eternity (The Space).
The Samdani Art Award is Bangladesh's premier art award, and aims to support, promote and highlight Bangladeshi contemporary art. The award, partnering with The Delfina Foundation since 2013, offers the winner a three-month residency at the Delfina Foundation in London. A residency at the Delfina Foundation can be a career-defining moment for an artist to develop their ideas, sharpen their practice, and widen their networks.
The finalists were drawn from a larger pool of semi-finalists and were selected by the Swiss Institute director Simon Castets, who curated the show with eleven finalists in the DAS 2018. The winner has been selected by a board chaired by Delfina Foundation director Aaron Cezar and consisted of artists -- Sheela Gowda, Runa Islam, Subodh Gupta and Mona Hatoum.
The other finalists are Ahmed Rasel, Aprita Singh Lopa, Asfika Rahman, Debasish Shom, Marzia Farhana, Opper Zaman, Palash Bhattacharjee, Rakib Ahmed, Reetu A. Sattar and Sabbir Alam.
Maksudul Karim, a 6th semester student of Architecture, Premier University, Chittagong, received the Samdani Architecture Award 2018. SAF called for a competition for designing an education pavilion that is displayed at the heart of Chief curator Diana Campbell Betancourt's curated show “Bearing Points”.
“From the very beginning of the design, I have kept the culture, tradition and the heritage of my country in mind to implement it in the designing process and tried to make the design accordingly. I tried to significantly shed light on rural culture that opens a gateway to work with the rural material in a modern way. Our traditional boat called shampan really attracts and inspires me and I named my project 'Chhayatori'. The practice will definitely inspire the new generations to be more concerned about the traditional and to create environment-friendly architectures. I am thankful to SAF for arranging such a wonderful platform for art and architecture,” said Maksudul Karim.