"Ke ba kahara", a diverse and self-organised group of volunteer-researchers, arranged an exhibition titled 'Fayedabad To-Let', recently. It was supported by Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council in the capital.
The exhibition, presented by Bangladeshi-Australian artist Omar Chowdhury, presented a work of conceptual performance that explored the modernist ideas, activated in society and architecture, from a Bangladesh perspective. The exhibition was organised in accordance with the public health safety guidelines for the ongoing global pandemic.
"There is a strain of melancholia that has coursed through the history of modernist architecture and art in Bangladesh that has always intrigued me," shares Omar Chowdhury. "The political and cultural implications of importing these processes and aesthetics has been fraught, to say the least. Yet there is a heart-breaking nostalgia and desire there as well."
"We wondered how particular narratives could appear and embed themselves into Marina Tabassum's complex building and its past," adds Omar Chowdhury. "The first performance and installation have been a reflexive, meta-fictional attempt at solving this problem."
The exhibition was the first chapter of a two-part site-specific performance by Omar Chowdhury commissioned by and curated by Ke ba kahara curatorial collective. The second chapter of the performance is scheduled to take place at the same location in the spring of 2021. Additionally, a video and a print publication of the exhibition is currently in the works.
Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia awarded Ke ba kahara with 'Now On Grant' in August 2020, for their proposal 'Curatorial Collaboration as Method'. The grant has provided support for two initiatives.
Through the second initiative, Ke ba kahara started an ongoing programme of not-for-profit exhibitions, presentations and performances, planned and prepared in spaces and locations, which are not normally dedicated to art. The "Fayedabad To-Let" exhibition was a part of the second initiative by the organisation and the first exhibition under this initiative.
"The work could not have been developed, or the exhibition arranged without the active support of many individuals," says Sadia Rahman of Ke ba kahara. "In particular, in addition to the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, we must convey our thanks to architect Marina Tabassum, Rezaur R Khan Piplu and Kamrul Hasan Maruf."
Ke ba kahara, formed in 2019, engages with contemporary and modern art practices in Bangladesh through the lens of specific streams of research, which the group pursues collectively. As research progresses in the individual research streams, the group develops both study material such as subject readers, bibliographies and reading lists as well as public material such as editorial projects, translation initiatives, arts programmes and exhibition concepts.