Making moves in Dhaka | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 25, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 25, 2020

Making moves in Dhaka

Bangladesh was born from geological, linguistic, political, independence and artistic movements. The fifth edition of the Dhaka Art Summit 2020 (DAS), aptly named ‘Seismic Movement’, will provoke us to re-examine these movements, and how they have shaped the histories and boarders of Southeast Asia. The open and free for all event will be held from 7–15 February 2020, bringing Dhaka to the epicentre of a radical upheaval of how we think about art. Shilpakala Academy will decorate its four floors with intellectual and curatorial contributions in the city. Built through alliances across Africa, Australia, South and Southeast Asia (and also extending into Europe and the US), this platform will include contributions by 500 artists, scholars, curators and thinkers, in the form of panel discussions, performances and symposia as well as opportunities for participation from the 300,000+ visitors focused on one broad theme: what is a movement and how do we ignite one beyond the confines of an art exhibition?

Some of the most thought-provoking moments will include Argentinian sculptor Adrián Villar Rojas’ immersive installation made of 400 million year-old ammonite fossils, which visitors can walk over. Foreshadowing Bangladesh’s climate conundrum of potentially being swallowed into the rising seas, it brings viewers into the forefront of the impact of the ever-changing climate and how we must adapt. Visitors will face the colonial movements as they enter the vicinity through a newly commissioned performative installation by Kamruzzaman Shadhin in collaboration with the artist-led initiative Gidree Bawlee; the work considers the role of the British-era railways in changing Bengal’s lands from growing food (rice) to producing cash-crops (jute) through migration stories found in traditional folk songs from Bangladesh.

Dhaka Art Summit 2020 is firmly committed to supporting the artistic development of the country’s emerging artists. The fifth edition of the Samdani Art Award, curated by Philippe Pirotte, allows artists to create new work for DAS 2020 and to be supported in a residency at Srihatta. Shortlisted artists are Ariful Kabir, Ashfika Rahman, Faiham Ebna Sharif, Habiba Nowrose, Najmun Nahar Keya, Palash Bhattacharjee, Promoti Hossain, Soma Surovi Jannat, Sounak Das, Sumana Akter, Tahia Farhin Haque and Zihan Karim.

This comes after the success of the 2018 Dhaka Art Summit 2020 with 368,000 people in attendance throughout the biennial. As the momentum builds for the upcoming Dhaka Art Summit 2020 in February, the development of Srihatta Sculpture park and its artist residencies in Sylhet is underway to open its doors to the public soon after. Bangladesh has already become a budding art scene with thanks to the Samdani Art Foundation at the centre of its success.


Nadia Samdani is the Co-Founder and President of the Samdani Art Foundation and the Director of Dhaka Art Summit 2020.

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