The Samdani Art Foundation is delighted to announce further details of Dhaka Art Summit 2016, which will take place from 5 to 8 February 2016. Dhaka Art Summit takes place at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in partnership with the country’s national academy of fine and performing arts. The third edition of the bi-annual event will include major projects by internationally acclaimed artists including Lynda Benglis, Simryn Gill, Haroon Mirza, and Dayanita Singh; as well some of the most exciting emerging names from the region such as Ayesha Sultana, Waqas Khan, Maryam Jafri, Nge Lay, and Munem Wasif. For the first time, the event will also incorporate architecture, experimental writing and exhibitions of historical works from the 20th century as part of a new expanded programme. Once more, over 50 leading thinkers from South Asia and beyond will take part in a talks programme that will address art initiatives off the center in South Asia among other timely topics. While it is difficult for Indians to obtain visas to Pakistan (and vice versa), Bangladesh provides an ideal hub for regional thinkers to come together in person within the region.
Led by the foundation’s Artistic Director, Diana Campbell Betancourt, the curatorial team for the 2016 edition brings together representatives from international museums including Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou and the Kunsthalle Zurich with a range of South Asian partners. For Dhaka Art Summit 2016, this artistic team has devised a rich survey of artists, architects, filmmakers and writers from across South Asia. Around 200 artists will participate from countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as well as those from the South Asian diaspora. The artists will be presented in tightly curated thematic exhibitions that break from the traditional country survey model. Building on Dhaka’s rich festival tradition, DAS 2016 will be a space that celebrates cosmopolitan histories and looks at very wide definitions of what a South Asia-focused art festival means. Artists and filmmakers from the 2016 programme such as Merchant Ivory, Lynda Benglis, Gaganendranath Tagore, John Giorno, Lida Abdul, Krishna Reddy, Rashid Choudhury, and Lionel Wendt exemplify the longstanding dialogue between South Asia and the rest of the world.
The 2016 solo projects, curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, will explore what it means to be an individual in the context of South Asia, breaking away from any idea of national representation. Major solo projects, and primarly new commissions, will include Shumon Ahmed, Lynda Benglis, Simryn Gill, Waqas Khan, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Haroon Mirza, Amanullah Majadidi, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Sandeep Mukerjee, Po Po, Ayesha Sultana, Dayanita Singh, Tun Win Aung & Wah Nu, Mustafa Zaman, and Munem Wasif. Further names will be announced in October 2015.
Selected guest-curated exhibitions (More exhibitions to be announced in October 2015)
Nada Raza, assistant curator at Tate Modern, will present 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 will draw 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 watercolour byGaganendranath Tagore, which looks skyward to imagine a cosmological vortex in the heavens. These motifs of astral journeys and alien encounters will be 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, will present an exhibition on Bangladeshi architecture from 1947 to 2017 as part of a wider research project for the Centre Pompidou. This will focus 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 will also trace the legacy of Muzharul Islam for third generation Bangladeshi architects working today, drawing attention to a diverse range of contemporary architecture practice.
Nikhil Chopra and Madhavi Gore will curate the performance programme that explores time and duration. Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty, and several other important figures to the performance art scene from South Asia will feature in this exhibition.
Shanay Jhaveri will curate a film programme that will explore ideas of location and cross-cultural experience. A documentary made by Merchant Ivory for the BBC in 1972 on the writer-scholar Nirad Chaudhari (1897–1999) will form the cornerstone for the programme. Filmed in London and Oxford,Adventures of a Brown Man in Search of Civilisation, 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.
DAS 2016 introduces a historical section, Rewind, which will highlight practices of South Asian artists active before 1980, curated by the Samdani Art Foundation along with a team including Beth Citron(Rubin Museum), Sabih Ahmed (Asia Art Archive) and Amara Antilla (Guggenheim). 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, but previously lost film Events in a Cloud Chamber from 1973 will debut in a recreated version in a collaboration between the 88-year-old artist and celebrated filmmaker Ashim Ahluwalia.
The Samdani Art Foundation has again partnered with the Delfina Foundation for the bi-annualSamdani Art Award. Ten finalists will be selected from an open call for applications, and their work will be exhibited in a show curated by Daniel Baumann (Director, Kunsthalle Zurich) in collaboration withProHelvetia-Swiss Arts Council. Baumann will be assisted by Bangladeshi curators who he will mentor.
The Summit will also include an exhibition of Bangladeshi art curated by Mohammad Muniruzzaman. The exhibition is produced by Emily Dolan (Operations Director, Samdani Art Foundation) and Eve Lemesle (Associate Producer, Samdani Art Foundation and Founder of What About Art?) and assisted by Ruxmini Choudhury, Nivriti Roddam, and Shabnam Lilani (curatorial assistants, Samdani Art Foundation). The Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy is led by the expertise of Liaquat Ali Lucky.
Critical writing ensembles
Drawing on the rich literary traditions in the region and the need for experimental writing platforms, Dhaka Art Summit will also feature a new section of Critical Writing Ensembles supported byProHelvetia Swiss Arts Council, which will provide a platform to explore forms of experimental writing in South Asia and the rest of the world. This section will include contributions by leading writers and curators such as Quinn Latimer, Chus Martinez, Maria Lind, Sharmini Pereira, Yin Ker, Devika Singh, Aveek Sen, Carlos Basualdo, and 12 other leading writers from the region. This program is led by Katya Garcia Anton (Director of Office for Contemporary Art Norway) with Diana Campbell Betancourt and Take on Art, India.