What to expect from this year’s Chobi Mela | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 13, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:08 AM, February 13, 2021

What to expect from this year’s Chobi Mela

This year’s iteration of the much-anticipated Chobi Mela, mounts a self-reflective display of innovation, at the time of a global pandemic. The socio-political discourses of our neighbours are connected to our own existence -- as defined by this year’s theme.

Titled 'Chobi Mela Shunno', the festival can be interpreted as an amorphous infinite space, or a home that runs parallel with all others.

This special edition will offer a range of narratives from different parts of home and neighboring states, bringing in 'performative democracy' to the present time – to understand its value and experience its intensity in an art space. With three in-house and three guest curators, this is also the very first time that Chobi Mela is curating all their projects.

In its limited arrangement, curators and artists took the opportunity to explore the 'non-spaces' for exhibitions, working in and around the premises of DrikPath Bhobon. The opening rally that usually goes around the city will limit its circumference within the building.

Artist and curator Najmun Nahar Keya, with five multigenerational artists from varied art practices, will explore the diversity of material and transformation of the DrikPath building, designed by one of the most critically acclaimed contemporary architects of South Asia, Bashirul Haq. The artists will engage in historical memories, light, space, and the visionary language of modern architecture.

Cheragi Art Show, a celebrated street exhibition from Cheragi Pahar, Chattogram, will re-imagine its elevated space within the stairways of the DrikPath building. Fourteen homegrown practitioners from varied disciplines under Chobi Mela Fellow section curated by artist Zihan Karim, will present their works in re-reading Jibonananda Das's poem "Bodh", in an attempt to explore the multitude of its meaning.

Some fascinating works addressing language and voices will be presented in this year's Chobi Mela.

Samari Chakma, a lawyer and advocate for Bangladesh's indigenous Chakma community who was forced into exile in Australia and Naeem Mohaiemen, who makes films, installations, and essays about socialist utopia, unstable borders, will collaborate.

Curator Anushka Rajendran will present "Anatomies of Tongues", a congregation of testimonies that become critical assertions of inherently plural flows and voices encompassed by the category that is citizenship and have been lost to collective amnesia imposed by parochial attitudes and majoritarian decrees.

Mostly captured on mobile phone, Chobi Mela will exhibit the works of  Kolkata-based photographer Ronny Sen's "Portrait of a Protest", images of anti-government street demonstrations in India from 2006 to 2020 that have become a vital document of history.

The programme will also incorporate sound and web-radio show 'Baba Betar', featuring open and intimate conversations with contemporary thinkers and artistes. Exclusive interviews are lined up in the Chobi Mela podcast series. Celebrated and rare works of Bashirul Haq and Sayeeda Khanum will be on display in the 'Tribute' section.

With informal addas addressing issues such as workplace safety for female journalists and freelance photographers, concerts, recreation of Bihari Camp's Pappu studio, 'Chobi Mela Shunno' will be a culmination of physical and digital public festival to kick start 2021 amid the pandemic.

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