A solo exhibition titled, Disappearing Roots, by promising visual artist Samsul Alam Helal opened on March 23 at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. The exhibition focuses on the displacement in the hill tracts of Bangladesh featuring the remaining traces of the ancient ways of life and the violence of gentrification.
Diana Campbell, Chief Curator of Dhaka Art Summit, attended the event as the guest speaker. Rahnuma Ahmed, Public Anthropologist and Columnist,Yan Yan, the Chakma Rani (Queen) and Dr Sayeed Ferdous, Professor and Researcher, Jahangirnagar University, graced the occasion as honourable guests.
Disappearing Roots showcases the Kaptai dam, which was built in 1962 as a hydro power source. It produces about five percent of the total electricity consumed by Bangladesh. People were displaced as a result of it. The palace of the Chakma king, buried deep in the lake, is also a part of the exhibition, along with a 'chair', the symbolic representation of the throne that travels around communities. At times, the chair sits alone in the landscape, which is constantly under threat by the majority. Through sounds, photographs, 3D models and videos, the visuals emphasise on the remaining traces of the ancient ways of life, highlighting the violence of gentrification.
Samsul Alam Helal is a visual artist based in Dhaka. He completed his graduation in photography from Pathshala South Asian Media Institute. Helal loves to make fiction to question the reality. His aim is to go beyond the socio-cultural and political issues which primarily interest him. He explores identity, dreams, longings and play with the psychological realm of these issues to understand the deeper marks they create. In his recent art practice he does photography, video and installation. Helal's work represents a reality in an alternate space.
Helal is one of the winners of The World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in 2016 and participated in various group shows including Kunsthalle Zurich, Speak Local, 2017, Colombo Art Biennale 2016, Dhaka Art Summit 2016, Chobi Mela 2012 and Bronx Museum, New York 2015. He was one of the visiting artists in the Fellowship Program in Harvard University in 2018.