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Re-Examinations on the Function of Art: Dhaka Art Summit 2018

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Re-Examinations on the Function of Art: Dhaka Art Summit 2018
Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siri, “Dilbur” (2013) Single-channel video installation, HD. Courtesy of the artists, Sharjah Art Foundation and Kick the Machine Films. Copyright: Kick the Machine Films. Courtesy of: Dhaka Art Summit

The 2018 Dhaka Art Summit, which runs from February 2, 2018 until February 10, 2018 is an ambitious set of programming and events. This years summit has multiple programming components that are realized in concise curatorial sectioning, of centered on the consistent thematics evidenced in the works. DAS is hosted this year at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, which marks the third edition of the summit. Additionally, Samdani Art Foundation Artistic Director Diana Campbell Betancourt is the Chief Curator of DAS 2018, leading the summit for the third time. The works on view cover a diverse range of focus, including but not limited to that of the: social, political, individual, sexuality, among others.

The frame of the summit is to encourage and provoke thought on the state of discourse in art, especially in relation to location specific practices and conceptual concerns.

The curatorial statement issued described DAS 2018 as an: international exhibition featuring the works of artists and architects living in South Asia, non-commercial in structure, and as a research platform, among others. For the first time in the summit’s history, it is with great enthusiasm to announce that the programming promotes connections made between artists living across South and Southeast Asia that include but are not limited to: Thailand, Philippines, and Malaysia, among others will be on view this year. The frame of the summit is to encourage and provoke thought on the state of discourse in art, especially in relation to location specific practices and conceptual concerns. Further, it encourages the examination of the role/place these diverse ideas on view at DAS 2018 have in contemporary art.

Andrew Ananda Voogel, Still from “Kalapani”, HD Film (2014). Courtesy of: the artist & Dhaka Art Summit

The Samdani Art Foundation are the producers to date, and were the original founders of DAS in 2012. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs as well as the People’s Republic of Bangladesh continue to be collaborators in the production of DAS. It is notable that this year there are two new platforms: The Samdani Artist-Led Initiatives Forum and The Samdani Architecture Award. Both provide space, exposure for artists and architects in this years summit.

Curated by Cosmin Costinas is the “A Beast, A God, And A Line” program section. On view art the works of over 40 artists. The thematic focus is on connections related to ideas of place and geography specific to Bangladesh. One of the selected works is Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siri’s, Dilbur. This is an HD single-channel video installation. The dramatic lighting selectively highlights the face and shoulder of the figure; it is evocative of chiaroscuro techniques in renaissance paintings. The trousers, walls, and even the other half of the figures frame recede into darkness, and lose the clear definitions revealed under the scrutiny of the spotlight.

The dramatic lighting selectively highlights the face and shoulder of the figure; it is evocative of chiaroscuro techniques in renaissance paintings. The trousers, walls, and even the other half of the figures frame recede into darkness, and lose the clear definitions revealed under the scrutiny of the spotlight.

“Bearing Points” is one of the program sections on view at DAS, curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt. It is broken down into five subsections:  1. Politics: The Most Architectural Thing To Do. 2. Dozakh-I-Puri N’Imat- An Inferno Bearing Gifts. 3. An Amphibious Sun. 4. There Was Once A Village Here. 5. Residence Time. Of the various artists included, one of the included works is a HD film still from the work of Andrew Ananda Voogel’s “Kalapani”. The image is of a vast landscape at dawn or dusk. Because of the grey tones and limited lighting, it is difficult to decipher whether the time is coming out of, or going into darkness.

Runa Islam, “This Much Is Uncertain”, production still (2009). Courtesy of: Fiorucci Art Trust & Dhaka Arts Summit

“Total Anastrophes” program section is curated by Milovan Farronato with Runa Islam as the Artistic Leader. A total of nine artists including the Farronato and Islam are part of this section. The image of the work This Much Is Uncertain, is a production still by Runa Islam, which shows a work in progress shot on the development of a new work. The realization of a work, and reminding the viewer that this is a necessary component, is of interest. In this program, within the support of the Fiorucci Art Trust, Dhaka will receive the eighth edition of Volcano Extravaganza. The work which is usually realized at another site, will be responsive to the new themes that are evoked relating to place, energy, nature, freeform, among others.

Ayesha Sultana, “Threshold series”, scratched photograph (2013). Courtesy of: the artist, Experimenter, Kolkata & Dhaka Arts Summit

The scratched photographs are descriptive of passing through a threshold. It seems to suggest that what was captured no longer persists in the same way; a change was imminent.

“Planetary Planning” program section is curated by Devika Singh include twelve artists projects on view. Some of the works on view include the photographic works of Ayesha Sultana, who has displayed images of locations. One is of a building in Kolkata, India, and another is of a natural landscape, also in Kolkata. A compelling function of Ayesha’s work is that the images have a quality of timelessness, in that they could have been taken decades ago, or printed just last week. On the surface there are alternating marks that both graze the surface, and cut through the of the inkjet paper. The scratched photographs are descriptive of passing through a threshold. It seems to suggest that what was captured no longer persists in the same way; a change was imminent. The images are only 4.1 inches x 6 inches in scale, making the viewing experience intimate, even familiar because it is the scale that most photographs are printed at kiosks.  

Ayesha Sultana, “Threshold series”, scratched photograph (2013). Courtesy of: the artist,  Experimenter, Kolkata & Dhaka Arts Summit

This project is part of a curatorial platform founded in 2010 ‘AOTFD: Archaeology of the Final Decade’. A component of the mission is to put attention to neglected artifacts.

Part of the “A Utopian Stage’ programming section are archival documentations of theatre performances over that last few decades in Dhaka. This section is curated by Vali Mahlouji and includes the works of five artists. In one image, the 1972 work of composer Mantra, Karlheinz Stockhausen’s “Piece for 2 pianists”, Alfons & Aloys Kontarsky, Stockhausen Panorama, Saray-e Moshir. Additionally, images from the 1968: “Shahr-e Qesseh (City of Tales)”, which was written and directed by Bijan Mofid, University Hall are on view. This project is part of a curatorial platform founded in 2010 ‘AOTFD: Archaeology of the Final Decade’. A component of the mission is to put attention to neglected artifacts. Since its inception, the materials have been acquired by LACMA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and Tate Modern, among others.

Mantra, Karlheinz Stockhausen (composer), “Piece for 2 pianists”, Alfons & Aloys Kontarsky, Stockhausen Panorama, Saray-e Moshir (1972). Courtesy of: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis / Stockhausen-Stiftung für Musik & Dhaka Arts Summit

“Shahr-e Qesseh (City of Tales)”, Written and directed by Bijan Mofid, University Hall (1968). Courtesy of: Festival of Arts, Shiraz-Persepolis / Bijan Mofid Foundation & Dhaka Arts Summit


Through February 10, 2018 a wide range of exhibitions, talks, screenings, workshops and symposiums are on view. For more on the Dhaka Arts Summit, including the times, dates, and locations or all the programming events, please visit: https://www.dhakaartsummit.org/ .


Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.