A discussion on The Portraits of Kamalapur, a book by artist Ruhul Abdin, took place on Monday at Art Café in Gulshan Avenue. Born in Sylhet and raised in London, Ruhul Abdin is an artist, architect, designer, writer and urban research planner.
He has been splitting his time between Dhaka and London for his numerous projects. The Portraits of Kamalapur is his on-going art project, which is part of a series of portrait drawings at the Kamalapur Railway Station.
A small collection of the drawings, two essays and a reflective piece by Dr Shoshannah Williams are also included in the book. Dr Shoshannah Williams is an occupational therapist and researcher who has conducted a year-long ethnographic study with women of Kamalapur. The book also contains a longer thought piece by poet and environmental activist Farhad Mazhar of UBINIG, an action research organisation for development alternatives, based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, .
“It was my interrogation of who I am,” says the artist, who did not have a conversation with any of his subjects, “It was not political. It was not about highlighting the plight of the people of Kamalapur, as I do not know their stories.”
The book itself is created to start that conversation. As an architect, Ruhul is interested in space, which is why he chose a public space like the Kamalapur Railway Station for his book.
Kutkut, a project on mental health and what Ruhul and Dr Williams learned from spending time with women and young people at the station was also a part of the discussion. Kutkut will be piloted in Kamalapur in 2019, led by Paraa, a participatory design research studio based in Dhaka, in collaboration with Shoshannah Williams. The programme ended with a question-answer session.