Samdani Art Foundation Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Samdani Art Foundation?
The Samdani Art Foundation is a private trust based in Dhaka, Bangladesh that aims to increase artistic engagement between Bangladesh and the rest of the world. It collaborates with the Bangladeshi government through official partnerships with the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, the country’s main state-sponsored national cultural center and also runs educational lectures and workshops with the Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University. The Samdani Art Foundation has also supported international institutions and exhibitions, such as the Kunsthalle Basel, the 2nd Kochi Biennale, and the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia. It is, however, not a grant making body and generally works with curatorial collaborations on an institutional level. The Foundation has recently supported curators from the Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Kunsthalle Zurich, Guggenheim, Rubin Museum, Asia Art Archive, and many others to travel to the region for their research and to develop exhibitions geared towards South Asian audiences. The Foundation is best known for the Dhaka Art Summit, which is the world’s largest non-profit South Asian focused art festival and research platform that happens every two years.
Who is behind the Foundation?
Nadia Samdani is the President of the Samdani Art Foundation, which she co-founded with her husband Rajeeb Samdani in 2011 to support local artists and to promote Bangladeshi and South Asian art in the region and around the world. The Foundation is led by Diana Campbell Betancourt, its Artistic Director, and the International Advisory Committee.
How does the Foundation sustain itself financially?
The Foundation is privately funded.
What is the source of these private funds?
Rajeeb Samdani is the Managing Director of Golden Harvest as well as the Chairman of the Dubai - based financial institution Gulf International Finance Limited. Golden Harvest is a diversified Bangladeshi conglomerate with over 5,000 employees and involved in 10 different business sectors from food, real estate, information, technology, agro, infrastructure development, dairy, aviation, insurance, commodity and logistics. Mr. Samdani is also the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation, which is one of the largest Human Rights organizations in Bangladesh with a focus on women and children. As well, he is the Founder of the Taher Ahmed Chowdhury Charitable Hospital in the city of Sylhet. Both of these organizations are also funded by the Samdani family as part of their social responsibility ethos.
Is there a tax exemption from the sources invested in the Samdani Art Foundation?
Due to local regulation there is no tax benefit for any of the funds invested in the Foundation or any of its projects.
What makes the Samdani Art Foundation unique?
In 2012 the Samdani Art Foundation founded the Dhaka Art Summit, a bi-annual event that is today the world’s largest non-commercial research and exhibition platform for South Asian Art. One of the interesting aspects of the Foundation is that, differently from most Biennial models, they commission, fund and produce works as opposed to merely exhibiting them. They do this over two years, but not as a collection building strategy as the works will often travel to international exhibitions after the event and will continue to belong to the artists, rather than the Foundation.
A good example of our support to the arts is one of the first solo projects by Bangladeshi artist Tayeba Begum Lipi, which was commissioned by the Samdani Art Foundation and is now in the collection of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Several of the solo projects which were commissioned and produced for the second Dhaka Art Summit, such as those by Shilpa Gupta, Rashid Rana, Jitish Kallat, and Naeem Mohaiemen travelled to international institutions such as the Berlin Biennale, NYU Abu Dhabi, San Jose Museum of Art and Kunsthalle Basel. The first project commissioned and produced by the Samdani Art Foundation for the 2016 Dhaka art Summit by Burmese conceptual artist Po Po travelled to the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial ahead of its exhibition in Bangladesh. The Samdani Art Foundation commissions and often produces works by artists from across South Asia, not only Bangladesh.
The Foundation has been successful in helping many artists again this year through the third edition of the Dhaka Art Summit. Munem Wasif, Ayesha Sultana, Rana Begum have recently showcased their work at the 11th Gwangju Biennale, Korea. This marks the Biennale’s first inclusion of Bangladeshi artists.Architects Kashef Chowdhury and Rafiq Azam were selected for the Venice Architecture Biennale, Main Pavilion and EU Pavilion respectively, marking the Biennale’s first inclusion of Bangladeshi architects. Bangladeshi solo project artist, Munem Wasif has been selected for the 5th edition of the Singapore Biennale. Performance Pavilion artist Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty is to have a Solo exhibition at Tokyo Wonder Site, Japan. Solo project artist Ayesha Sultana has been included in a Group exhibition at Queens Museum, New York and awarded a 6 months residency at Iaspis, Sweden. Performance Pavilion and Samdani Art Award artist Atish Saha was featured in a group exhibition at Tarq, Mumbai earlier this year. Another Samdani Art Award finalist Samsul Alam Helal will be participating in the Colombo Art Biennale. Solo project artists Munem Wasif has been signed by leading Mumbai gallery, Project 88 and Mustafa Zaman by Exhibit 320, New Delhi. Many young artists featured in the Samdani Art Award are in conversation with galleries in Europe and Asia hoping to work with these artists. More recently five artists who were featured at the 2016 Dhaka Art Summit, Rafiqul Islam Shuvo, Marzia Farhana, Shumon Ahmed, Munem Wasif, Ayesha Sultana and Mustafa Zaman were a part of the show You Cannot Cross The Sea Merely By Staring At The Waves at Krinzinger Projekte. The show was curated by our Artistic Director Diana Campbell Betancourt, and was their first showcase of only young Bangladeshi artists.
The Foundation does not recover production money or take commissions pertaining to the work it produces, it is a purely non-commercial entity, which is unique to the country and the region. While there are other art foundations in Bangladesh, the Samdani Art Foundation is the only that is not tied to commercial activities in the art world to fund its programme. The Bengal Foundation, for example, is funded through the sales of artworks through its galleries and art fair participation. The Samdani Art Foundation is privately funded and does not sell any artworks nor generate income from engaging with any commercial activities with galleries or art fairs.
What projects does the Foundation deliver?
The Foundation has a great number of projects including the Samdani Seminars and the Dhaka Art Summit. It also supports a great number of global events and the participation of artists from Bangladesh in international exhibitions. For further information please refer to http://samdani.com.bd/projects/?start=9
Does the Foundation Plan to Expand Outside of Dhaka?
The Samdani Art Foundation currently has its offices based in Dhaka and Mumbai, which facilitates its work across South Asia. The Foundation does not have plans to open other international offices or exhibition spaces, but one of the main activities of the foundation is developing a permanent Art Centre in Sylhet, Bangladesh, which is a forty-minute flight from Dhaka. Morevoer, the Foundation works across the world supporting international institutions such as the Kunsthalle Basel, the 2nd Kochi Biennale, and the 56th International Art Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia with curatorial collaborations on an institutional level. The Foundation most recently supported curators from the Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Kunsthalle Zurich, Guggenheim, Rubin Museum, Asia Art Archive and Pro Helvetia- Swiss Council. Also the Foundation promotes the international exchange of ideas through the Samdani Art Award in partnership with Delfina Foundation in London, which gives a Bangadeshi artists the opportunity to attend a three-month residency in London.
What is the Arts Centre in Sylhet?
It is a public arts centre that is currently being developed by the Samdani Art Foundation to be opened in 2018. It is located in a 100+ acre outdoor site in Sylhet, Bangladesh and it will house the Samdani Collection, besides commissioning new works by South Asian and international artists. This space aims to improve the existing public art infrastructure in the country, as well as create accessibility to a wider audience to contemporary art.
Located in northeast Bangladesh, surrounded by rain forests, hills, rivers and valleys, Sylhet is one of the leading tourist destinations in the country. As the Samdani Art Foundation seeks to promote artistic international exchange between Bangladesh and the rest of the world, Sylhet, as an easily accessible international Bangladeshi city is an ideal location for its new Arts Centre.
Sylhet is a key geographical point not only for Bangladesh but for South Asia due to its unique cultural and economic development and linguistic differences. Sylheti is the main language of the region while the rest of the country speaks predominantly Bengali. These distinctions have made Sylhet one of the most important regions for cultural and experiences exchange within the country and South Asia which is reflected in the activities of the Samdani Art Foundation.
The Dhaka Art Summit has also presented artists from this region such as Rana Begum and Sylhet is the hometown of the Samdani family.
What Initiatives will the Art Centre promote?
It will house part of the permanent collection of the Samdani Art Foundation and will have exhibition spaces dedicated to contemporary art from Bangladesh, South Asia and international artists. It will also have a performance program and a vast outdoor area for sculpture and large pieces. As part of an international exchange initiative, the Arts Centre will host the Samdani Seminars, which at the moment take place in the Shilpakala Academy and the Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka.
What are the Samdani Seminars?
Samdani Seminars are a series of talks and workshops geared at enhancing arts education in Bangladesh by facilitating interactions with international artists and mediums that are not supported by the syllabi of Bangladeshi Art Schools, such as performance art. The first annual Samdani Seminars began on March 20th, 2015, curated by the Samdani Art Foundation Artistic Director Diana Campbell Betancourt. The first seminars focused on exploring the possibilities of the body and the space that it occupies: allowing artists to consider the body as the primary tool of expression, a tool that also allows the engagement with traditional arts such as painting, sculpture, and photography.
Who takes part in the Seminars?
12 visiting artists and curators from 8 countries participated in the previous series of Seminars working alongside individuals from theatre, music, dance and architecture backgrounds in addition to the visual artists. Interestingly, some of the most successful performance artists in the world do not come from a visual arts background and the Samdani Art Foundation wants to facilitate collaborations across creative disciplines.
The visiting artists have featured in leading exhibitions such as the Venice Biennale, Documenta, Sharjah Biennale, Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, among others. They conducted free lectures to complement the existing curriculum of Bangladesh’s leading educational institutions. While half of the seminars were open to the public and enjoyed by audiences of over 300 art students, the other half of the seminars were closed-door discussions with a group of 16 participants, selected by the artists from a strong applicant pool of 60.
What is the Dhaka Art Summit?
The Dhaka Art Summit is the largest non-commercial platform for South Asian Art. It is a bi-annual international art festival funded, organised and produced by the Samdani Art Foundation.
2016 welcomed the third edition of the Summit. The first edition in 2012 mainly focused on local artists and galleries, while 2014 had a regional South Asian approach presenting five exhibitions curated by local and international curators, 14 solo art projects, a city-wide public art, film screenings and presentations by 32 local and international galleries with 250 artists from across the South Asian region. The 3rd edition included over 300 artists, curators writers and many other art professionals were invited to participate in the different aspects of the Dhaka Art Summit programme, which included new commissions, curated group exhibitions, talks, performance and film programmes, book launches and the Summit’s first historical exhibition, Rewind. We welcomed over 138,000 visitors in just 4 days. The Dhaka Art Summit will return with its 4th edition in 2018.
Is Dhaka Art Summit an Art Fair?
The Dhaka Art Summit is not an art fair.There is no income generated from the Summit to the Samdani Art Foundation or the Samdani family. The 2012 and 2014 editions presented galleries from South Asia and Bangladesh, but these were invited and offered free space as part of the Samdani Art Foundation and the Dhaka Art Summit’s mission to increase the visibility of Bangladesh and South Asian art and to expose Bangladeshi galleries to an international audiences and practices.
The 2016 edition did not invite international galleries, instead we invited only Bangladeshi art spaces (both commercial and non-commercial) to be present in the Summit venue, without charge, in order to give visitors a snapshot of what the local art ecosystem is like in Bangladesh. We will maintain this aspect of the Summit in future editions.
Does the Dhaka Art Summit have anything to do with the India Art Summit which is now the India Art Fair?
No, they are distinct organisations with different missions. While the India Art Fair plays a very important role in the region, it is a for-profit entity and its content is limited to the artists represented by galleries that hired booths at the fair. The Dhaka Art Summit, on the other hand, is not a fair and it is a non-commercial curated platform. Many of the artists who are a part of the Summit do not have gallery representation, so the support of the Samdani Art Foundation provides a valuable platform to exhibit their work.
Is the Dhaka Art Summit a Biennale?
The Dhaka Art Summit is not a Biennale. Bangladesh already has a Biennale, the Asian Art Biennale, which has completed 16 editions and is held in the same venue as the Dhaka Art Summit. Although the Dhaka Art Summit does take place every two-years, it is purely for organisational and logistical purposes, this model is not integral to the summit. Differently from a Biennale, The 3rd edition of the Dhaka Art Summit was a four-day festival for South Asian Art with an expanded program that includes different art and architecture exhibitions, an experimental writing initiative, a film and talks programme. In future editions we plan to extend the Summit to run for at least 9 days.
The word biennale constitutes an existing type of exhibition structure which the Samdani Art Foundation is trying to break away from, and the term research-platform can best describe the Summit.
What has been the impact of the previous Dhaka Art Summit?
The 2nd edition of the Dhaka Art Summit in 2014 welcomed over 70,000 visitors over three days and registered as one of the most important events in the region. The 3rd edition in 2016 welcomed over 138,000 visitors in 4 days, and operated tours for 2,500 students from 30+ schools. Those participating included over 300 emerging and established artists, as well as internationally renowned curators and writers from over 70 international institutions, who attend the Summit to extend and further their research into the region. Projects from the 2016 and 2014 Dhaka Art Summit have since traveled to the Berlin Biennale, the Queens Museum, Kochi-Muziris Biennale, the Kunsthalle Basel, and the San Jose Museum of Art. A commissioned project for the 2012 Summit traveled to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.
When is the next Dhaka Art Summit?
The fourth edition of the Dhaka Art Summit will take place from 2 to 10 of February, 2018
Why only four days?
The Dhaka Art Summit costs nearly $2 million USD to produce and the marginal costs of each extra day are not feasible for the Samdani Art Foundation to support in the face of 120% import bonds that must be paid on all temporarily imported artworks. The foundation worked hard to extend the Summit in the 2016 edition which was one day longer than the previous one with 2 extra hours each day. However in 2018 we will endeavour to extend this further to at least 9 days.
Where is the Dhaka Art Summit held?
The Dhaka Art Summit is held at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Who curated the Dhaka Art Summit 2016?
The curatorial team is led by the Artistic Director of the Samdani Art Foundation, Diana Campbell Betancourt, and brings together representatives from international museums including: Nada Raza from Tate Modern, Aurelien Lemonier from Centre Pompidou and Daniel Baumann from the Kunsthalle Zurich; with a range of South Asian partners.
How many artists will participated from the Dhaka Art Summit and from which countries are they?
Around 300 artists from countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as those from the South Asian diaspora.
What artists will be having works commissioned for the next Dhaka Art Summit?
The third edition of the event included major commissions by internationally acclaimed artists including: Lynda Benglis, Simryn Gill, Dayanita Singh, Amar Kanwar; as well some of the most exciting emerging names from the region such as Ayesha Sultana, Waqas Khan, Munem Wasif and Nge Lay. For the first time, the event also incorporated architecture, experimental writing and exhibitions of historical works from the 20th Century as part of a new expanded program. Once more, leading thinkers from South Asia and beyond took part in a talks programme that addressed art initiatives in South Asia among other timely topics.
What can you tell about the commissioned pieces?
One work was actually already produced, the 'VIP Project' by Po Po. The work was commissioned in November 2014 and Samdani Art Foundation funded the artist to speak at the Hay Literary Festival in Dhaka. The unsettling project questions the notion of VIP (Very Important People) through an intervention in which the artist inserted VIP signs onto public bus stations and public places. He then registered through photo and video how people behaved: no one in the public spaces considered themselves a VIP. Po Po originally did this in Yangon and the Samdani Art Foundation commissioned the Dhaka version. The work was shown before the Dhaka Art Summit at the Asia Pacific Triennial and both at the Summit the APT will show Yangon and Dhaka works.
How are the commissions funded?
All the commissions are privately funded by the Samdani Art Foundation
What are the Solo Projects?
Curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, the Solo Projects present major projects reconfigured within the Bangladeshi context and new commissions that are monographic presentations and explore what it means to be an individual in the context of South Asia.
2016 included commissions by Po Po, Simryn Gill, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Lynda Benglis, Sandeep Mukherjee, Shumon Ahmed, Waqas Khan, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Amanullah Majadidi Ayesha Sultana, Dayanita Singh, Tun Win Aung & Wah Nu, Mustafa Zaman, Christopher Kulendran Thomas and Munem Wasif, will be accompanied by projects by Tino Sehgal, Haroon Mirza, Shakuntala Kulkarni and Tun Win Aung & Wah Nu.
What were the Selected Guest-curated exhibitions of 2016 and who are the guest curators?
Tate Modern’s Nada Raza presented an exhibition exploring the influence of sci-fi and retro-futurism in South Asia including artists from across Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Raza drew on historical material including one of the first science fiction stories in the Bengali language, written by the scientist J.C. Bose in 1896, as well as a 1920s water-colour by Gaganendranath Tagore, which looks skyward to imagine a cosmological vortex in the heavens. These motifs of astral journeys and alien encounters were traced through different generations of South Asian artists who experienced the wonder and hubris of the space age from a slightly different tilt on the universe.
Aurelien Lemonier, curator of architecture at Centre Pompidou, presented an exhibition on Bangladeshi architecture from 1947 to 2017 as part of a wider research project for the Centre Pompidou. This focused on the life and work of Muzharul Islam (1923–2012), the Bangladeshi architect who called upon Louis Kahn to devise the landmark Dhaka parliament building. The exhibition also traced the legacy of Muzharul Islam for third generation Bangladeshi architects working today, drawing attention to a diverse range in the practice of contemporary architecture.
Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore and Jana Prepeluh curated the performance programme and conducted educational workshops with Bangladeshi performance artists. The performance programme is a product of Samdani Seminars, a series of workshops, talks and master-classes on performance art that were held in spring 2015 and acted as an incubator for emerging performance artists. Workshops were also held at the Heritage Hotel, part of Nikhil Chopra’s residency program in Goa. Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty, Ali Asgar, Atish Saha, and Sanand Biswas, key emerging names from Bangladesh, as well as Venuri Perera from Sri Lanka and Sajan Mani and Manmeet Devgun from India featured in this durational performance exhibition.
Daniel Baumann, Director of Kunsthalle Zurich in collaboration with Pro Helvetia-Swiss Arts Council, curated a show with works by the thirteen finalists of the Samdani Art Award 2016, in partnership with the Delfina Foundation, London. For this project he mentored Bangladeshi curators, who assisted him in the exhibition.
The Summit also included an exhibition of Bangladeshi art titled আত্ম-অন্বেষণ; Soul Searching curated by Md. Muniruzzaman. The exhibition was produced by Emily Dolan (Operations Director, Samdani Art Foundation) and Eve Lemesle (Associate Producer, Samdani Art Foundation and Founder of What About Art?).
How is the Dhaka Art Summit funded?
Over 90% of the fundings for the Dhaka Art Summit comes from the Samdani Art Foundation whilst only 10% come from the Foundation’s partners (both government and private)
What is the Samdani Art Award?
The Samdani Art Award is a partnership of the Samdani Art Foundation with the Delfina Foundation, London, to award an outstanding young Bangladeshi artist the opportunity to attend a three-month residency at the Delfina Foundation. For the 2016 edition of the award, thirteen finalists were selected from an open call for applications, and their work was exhibited in a show curated by Daniel Baumann (Director, Kunsthalle Zurich) in collaboration with Pro Helvetia-Swiss Arts Council. Baumann was assisted by Bangladeshi curators whom he mentored. The jury panel for the award was comprised of Caroline Bourgeois (Curator, Pinault Collection), Cosmin Costinas (Director, Para/Site), Catherine David (Deputy Director, Centre Pompidou), Massimiliano Gioni (Artistic Director, New Museum), and chaired by Aaron Cezar (Director, Delfina Foundation). The 2016 Samdani Art Award winner was Rasel Chowdhury.
For how long does the award exist?
This was the third edition of the Award.
Who was the winner of the previous editions?
The 2016 Samdani Art Award winner is Rasel Chowdhury. The 2014 winner was Ayesha Sultana the 2012 edition winners were Khalid Hassan and Musrat Reazi.
What is the Film Programme?
The Film Programme is an ongoing project of the Samdani Art Foundation which presents cycles of film around a specific matter and is curated by a guest curator. In 2014 the programme was curated by Mahbubur Rahman and in 2016, Shanay Jhaveri curated a film programme that explored ideas of location and cross-cultural experience. A documentary made by Merchant Ivory for the BBC in 1972 on the writer-scholar Nirad Chaudhuri (1897-1999), formed the cornerstone for the program. Filmed in London and Oxford, Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilization, records a fascinating individual born in Mymensing (now Bangladesh) who witnessed the rise and fall of empire and courted a distinctly ‘cosmopolitan’ reality for himself. Chaudhuri’s opinions were often controversial, especially the dedication of his autobiography to the British Empire.
What were 2016's New Initiatives?
A non-commercial Rewind section, highlighting practices of South Asian artists active before 1980, was advised by a team including Beth Citron (Rubin Museum), Sabih Ahmed (Asia Art Archive) and Amara Antilla (Guggenheim). Highlights included a presentation of rarely-seen before works by Sri Lankan photographer Lionel Wendt (1900 - 1944), early works by Nalini Malani from the late 1960s and early 1970s, as well as featuring lesser known Bangladeshi masters such as SM Sultan, Rashid Choudhury and Saifuddin Ahmed. Many of the works in Rewind will be exhibited for the first time in over 20 years. An exceptional example is Akbar Padamsee’s much discussed film, but previously believed to be lost film “Events in a Cloud Chamber” from 1973, which debuted in a restored version in collaboration with Ashim Ahluwalia.
The Samdani Art Foundation also announced a new partnership with Asia Art Archive (AAA) to support the development of scholarships on recent art from Bangladesh and presented the first stage of a planned bibliography of Bengali language writing on art. AAA had a dedicated booth at the summit to highlight its work across the South Asian region.
What was the new experimental writing programs?
Drawing on the rich literary traditions in the region and the need for experimental writing platforms, Dhaka Art Summit featured a new section of Critical Writing Ensembles supported by Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council and developed in collaboration with Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA), the Samdani Art Foundation, and TAKE on Art, India, which provided a platform to explore forms of experimental writing in South Asia and the rest of the world. This section included contributions by leading writers and curators such as: Chus Martinez, Maria Lind, Sharmini Pereira, Yin Ker, Devika Singh, Quinn Latimer, Geeta Kapur, Carlos Basualdo, and twelve other leading writers. This program was led by Katya Garcia Anton (Director of Office for Contemporary Art Norway) with Diana Campbell Betancourt and Bhavna Kakar of Take on Art, India.
What is the Talks Programme?
The Talks programme comprised of spokespeople from across South Asia and the world. Some topics included the challenges and responsibilities of developing artists’ estates, the responsibilities of curating regional shows for the “distant observer”, building collections of South Asian Art in a non-Western context and the history of Bangladeshi artists in Pakistan pre-and-post independence
Why Dhaka and Bangladesh?
Besides being the home-town of Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani, Dhaka and Bangladesh have a vibrant art scene still in need of support to engage with the international community. By promoting the Dhaka Art Summit and funding international events as well as encouraging cultural exchange, the Foundation gives the opportunity for leading figures of the international art world not only to engage with South Asian Art but also to get familiar with the Bangladeshi art scene. Moreover, it is important for the Foundation to provide the opportunity for the local community to engage with local and international art. The fact that the country does not have a dedicated contemporary art museum makes Samdani Art Foundation collection an important bridge for Bangladesh to get in touch with modern and contemporary art.
How many artworks are in the collection?
There are approximately 2,000 artworks in the Samdani Art Foundation collection.
What are the highlights of the collection?
South Asian highlights include Anish Kapoor, Gaganendranath Tagore, Naeem Mohaliemen, Rana Begum, Raqs Media Collective, Shilpa Gupta, and Zarina Hashimi. International highlights include Rembrandt, Matisse, Picasso, Paul Klee, Dali, Ettore Spalletti, Cindy Sherman, Marina Abramovic, Ai Weiwei , Pawel Althamer, Mona Hatoum, Philippe Parreno, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Cardiff and Miller, Huma Bhabha.
Where is the collection based?
The collection is currently based at Golpo, the Samdani Art Foundation residence in Gulshan, Dhaka. In 2018 the Foundation will open a public Art Center in Sylhet, Bangladesh on a 100+ acre outdoor site (2018 will mark phase 1).
Who can visit the collection?
The collection is open and viewable by appointment.
Nadia Samdani is the Co-Founder & President of the Samdani Art Foundation and Director of the Dhaka Art Summit. In 2011, she and her husband Rajeeb began the Samdani Art Foundation to support local artists and promote Bangladeshi and South Asian art in the region and around the world. As part of this initiative, she founded the Dhaka Art Summit, which has since completed two successful editions in 2012 and 2014 under her leadership. Nadia is a member of the Tate South Asia Acquisitions Committee, Tate's International Council, the New Museum’s International Leadership Council and is part of the Parasol Unit’s International Committee. Nadia is a second-generation collector and began her own collection at the age of 22. She collects both Bangladeshi and international art, reflecting her experience as both a proud Bangladeshi and also as a global citizen. She has written about collecting for Art Asia Pacific and Wall Street Journal ‘Live Mint’ and has been invited to speak about collecting at various international art fairs. Nadia has been named one of Artnew's top 200 collectors and her collection has been featured in many leading international publications.
Rajeeb Samdani is the Co-Founder and a Trustee of the Samdani Art Foundation and is the Managing Director of Golden Harvest Group, one of the leading diversified conglomerates in Bangladesh. Golden Harvest is involved in several sectors including: Food Processing, Dairy, Commodities, Logistics, Information Technology, Real Estate, Aviation and Insurance. In addition to his philanthropy with Art, Rajeeb is the Secretary General of Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation, one of the largest Human Rights organizations in the country, and the founder of TAC Charitable Hospital and the Alvina Samdani Trust. Rajeeb is an ardent collector of contemporary art and began collecting with his wife Nadia Samdani, with whom he founded the Samdani Art Foundation in 2011. Their collection was featured as one of the top 200 collections globally by Artnews in 2015. Samdani is the Co-Chair and a founding committee member of the Tate South Asian Acquisitions Committee, member of Tate's International Council and the New Museum’s International Leadership Council.
Diana Campbell Betancourt over the past four years has developed the Dhaka Art Summit to be the world’s leading research and exhibitions platform for art from South Asia, and developed a new philanthropic platform to shift the discourse away from an Indo-centric one by bringing together artists, architects, curators, and writers from across South Asia and through a largely commission based model where new work and exhibitions are born in Bangladesh. She has curated numerous solo projects with artists such as Haroon Mirza, Simryn Gill, Tino Sehgal, Lynda Benglis, Shilpa Gupta, Shahzia Sikander, Naeem Mohaiemen, Runa Islam, Shumon Ahmed, Pawel Althamer, Asim Waqif, and Raqs Media Collective as well as group exhibitions such as Rewind (with Amara Antilla, Sabih Ahmed, and Beth Citron) and Mining Warm Data, and initiated a free, alternative education program called Samdani Seminars which bridges the gaps in curriculum between the various art schools in Dhaka with international guest faculty. She chairs the board of the Mumbai Art Room, has been a research fellow at the Henry Moore Institute and the FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, and has collaborated with sculpture parks including Yorkshire Sculpture Park, de Cordova, and Wanas Konst on commissions of Indian sculpture.
Formerly based in Mumbai for six years, beyond furthering and facilitating inter-regional South Asia dialog through her exhibitions and public programmes, Betancourt has a keen interest in inter-Asia dialogs and was a resident researcher at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in 2016 and co-curated the Mumbai City Pavilion for the 9th Shanghai Biennial in 2012 and her studies at Princeton included a concentration in Chinese Language and Culture. She has consulted the New Museum and MCA Chicago and many other leading institutions on their inclusion of South Asia in their exhibitions programs and has presented her research as part of MoMA’s C-MAP initiative. She is a nominee for the 2016 Independent Curators International Independent Vision Curatorial Award and a part of MoMA’s 2016 International Curatorial Institute, and giving the 2016 Key Note Lecture for Artspace Sydney’s International Visiting Curators programme.
In addition to her exhibitions making practice, Betancourt also is responsible for developing the Samdani Art Foundation collection, which has been recognized by ArtReview, Artnet News, and Artnews as one of the leading collections in the world. The collection, as well as temporary exhibitions related to it, will be visible in the foundation’s art centre that will open in Sylhet, Bangladesh at the end of 2018.