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Bearing Points Exhibition at Dhaka Art Summit


Dhaka Art Summit, Bearing Point Exhibition, On Ghost (installation view), Feb 2nd, 2018.

DAS 2018 puts Bangladesh at the centre of its own cartography rather than at the periphery of someone else’s, recalibrating how we think about art in South Asia by focusing on the increased inclusion of minority positions and conflicted terrains. This will allow visitors to reconsider the diversity found in the region beyond national narratives, and to begin to navigate South Asia as a long-standing zone of global contact. To this end, the Solo Projects section of the Dhaka Art Summit will be replaced with Bearing Points. This new initiative will comprise large-scale thematic presentations from artists and architects, orienting the viewer towards lesser explored transcultural histories of the region, curated by DAS Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, and weaving together strands of thought from the nine other guest curated exhibitions in the Summit.


Artists Amin Taasha Ayesha Jatoi Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad Hitman Gurung Htein Lin Jakkai Siributr Joydeb Roaja Kanak Chanpa Chakma Khadim Ali Minam Apang Munem Wasif Nilima Sheikh Pablo Bartholomew Prabhakar Pachpute Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran Raqib Shaw Shahid Sajjad Soe Yu Nwe Sonia Jabbar Veer Munshi

There Once was a Village Here is a Bearing Point that considers what anthropologist Jason Cons describes as “sensitive spaces” – spaces that challenge ideas of nation, state, and territory where cultures exist that do not fit the image that the state has for itself. These spaces, which like many villages, are often razed with its people forced to succumb to the state, subdue to its needs, or submit to the domination of majority forces. However, the social fabric of a village often remains intact through oral tradition. South Asian artists have been advocating for these “sensitive spaces” for decades, however this Bearing Point differs in the sense that rather than advancing the visibility of internationally acclaimed and highly networked artists, it provides a space for artists from these communities to join these networks and speak for themselves. When the British carved out Pakistan from an independent India in 1947, creating east and west wings, they created a country only united by its common majority religion, Islam, ignoring the plurality found in Islam’s cultures of worship, as well as the vast cultural contributions that Buddhism and Hinduism lent to Bengal, especially from the perspective of village rituals that inspire much of Bangladeshi modern art. The name Bangla Desh means the land where people speak Bangla (Bengali) and Bangladesh was born in 1971 on the back of the Language Movement in the 1950s where people fought for the right to speak, live, and work in their own language. Linguistic lines offer far more room for cultural diversity than religious ones, however there are 42 other languages spoken within this territory. Bangladesh has recently celebrated the 20th anniversary of its peace accord with the Chittagong Hilltracts and the cultural ministry remains committed to supporting the visibilty of the rich cultures present there. While we enter vastly different landscapes while navigating this exhibition from Thailand in the east to Afghanistan in the west, the plight of the minority cultures tied to these lands shares uncanny similarity as development needs of the state, capitalist greed, and religious fundamentalism seek to mine resources from below the ground these people stand on and erase the religious beliefs which they stand for, often tied to cultures of fear and oppression. These artists bear witness to religious and ecological violence unfolding in their locales, and their work often acts as a register for this trauma. Despite carrying the weight of enormous pain, the deeply poetic practices of these artists are able to create spaces of empathy through which new modes of solidarity might be imagined.

Read more about the installation here:

Financial Times' review of the Dhaka Art Summit:

“There Once Was a Village Here”, installation view in “Bearing Points”, curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Dhaka Art Summit 2018. Featuring works by Soe Yu Nwe, Shahid Sajjad, Htein Lin, Minam Apang and Kanak Chanpa Chakma. Photo by: Pablo Bartholomew.

Dhaka Art Summit 2018 by Berlin Art Link

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