What You Can’t Miss in This Year’s Art Summit
The sixth Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is under way at the National Art Gallery of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy presented by the Samdani Art Foundation with the theme of 'Bonna', both the natural disaster and the Bengali name. Emerging Bangladeshi artists from home and abroad have addressed corruption, social and environmental concerns, ecological heritage, paid homage to their childhood memories, and many more. Through interactive simulations, engaging artwork and installations, and portraits, these aspects have been highlighted in multitudes and through multiple unique perspectives. Occupying three floors, each gallery has its unique identity and theme, and because of the use of various mediums, engages not only one's sense of vision, but also smell. While there are gems hidden in each corner and the first floor might be overwhelming for some due to its intensity of engaging installations, there are some displays which are a must see.
Matt Copson's Age of Coming
Before you even enter the gallery, you are met with a laser show of an infant to the right. The artist illustrates his own existential conflicts through an infant. This display is perhaps the ideal beginning to what you can expect from the rest of the galleries.
Very Small Feelings
This is the first gallery you enter and it tells a story. Co-curated by Akansha Rastogi, Diana Campbell and Ruxmini Choudhury, it features the work of Simon Fujiwara, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Anga Art Collective, and others. The portraits are a fun twist on Winnie the Pooh transposed on well known works of Edvard Munch and Vincent van Gogh, with a video of identity less and ungendered bear. This exhibition also features many unique and interactive installations which appeal to both children and adults. Imbued with political commentary and transcending cultural boundaries, the installations in this gallery allow for an immersive experience.
Another display which stands out is 'Home'. Here, the people are part of the art itself. As the audience, you enter this part as the guest into someone's home and can interact with them. The combination of performance and visual arts makes this section more captivating and maybe even a little startling.
Highlighting the loss of ecological heritage due to floods was 'Khaal Gaaon', an audio-visual installation with bamboo, clay and jute elements illustrating the loss of Assamese regions which have been lost due to flood and river erosion.
Shen Xin's 'Clarity is Here'
As you move along the galleries, you might find yourself walking past this one. You might look back seeing only a black tape square on the floor. However, when you look closely, you see that the shadows on the wall make the art. This particular display illustrates a certain tranquil and clarity which is often lost in the chaotic world and amongst the dangers we face in day to day life. Through the exhibition which constantly keeps on engaging your senses and keeps you on your toes aware of your surroundings, this stop offers clarity and a moment for you to catch your breath and reflect.
Ashfika Rahman's 'Death of a Home'
When we think of home, we think of a place filled with laughter and love. This installation is deprived of those elements and creates an eerie environment in which the audience experiences an unnerving change of atmosphere. With a radio playing in the corner and a footprint in the middle, this installation connects with childhood memories which have been lost in time, moments we wish to relive.
However, when you take a read at the description, the installation is far more in depth. It reflects how ethnic minorities in Bangladesh have been uprooted by authorities who find some reason to do so. The space itself, which is barely cluttered, still makes one feel trapped and alludes to the rhythm of freedom of such ethnic communities after half a century of liberation.
Faysal Zaman's '(un)filled'
In this display, you walk into a dark room with hanging posters with quotes on each side. On the side, you find a podium with an unplugged mike. The quotes were taken from interviews which the artist had taken with families of victims who had gone missing. It alludes to the corruption, misuse of power, and the discrepancies in the legal structure.
Marzia Migliora's 'Paradoxes of Plenty #51 (Big Wave)'
This portrait is packed with metaphors and symbols seeped into it with intricate detail. It is part of an ongoing series which is a visual exploration of the paradoxes that govern consumer society, and outlines the limitations of an anachronistic model antithetical to modern day environmental and social emergencies.
This portrait in display is a large-scale drawing illustrating the rush of a giant wave revealing the depths of the deep sea and a representation of the consequences of climate changes contributing to flooding, tropical cyclones, riverbank erosion and high salinity level in groundwater.
Anthony McCall's 'Line Describing a Cone'
This installation is a hidden gem which you find on the third floor. As you enter the dark room, you find yourself lost in a blackhole with a white light being emitted from a distance through a projector. Frame my frame and in thirty minutes, the arching line forms a full circle. The beam of light appears practically tactile due to the increased density of smoke produced by smoke machines. There is more than meets the eye in this installation. When you stand in the circle's circumference, you feel as though you are teleported into a portal as the smoke gradually encapsulates the light creating a celestial sensation.
There are multiple other portraits and installments in this year's Art Summit which keep the entire exhibition flowing. It taps into human emotions and fears which might be a little unsettling for some, but nevertheless the experience it provides with creative movement and thought provoking themes is worthwhile.