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SAF AROUND THE WORLD: Shumon Ahmed’s Work Travels to 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Sydney

Shumon Ahmed, What I Have Forgotten Could Fill An Ocean, What is Not Real Never Lived (2014), sound installation composed by Yusuf Khan and recited by Nader Salam including Polaroid photos, analogue telephone set. Image Courtesy of the artist and the Samdani Art Foundation 

Shumon Ahmed, What I Have Forgotten Could Fill An Ocean, What is Not Real Never Lived (2014), sound installation composed by Yusuf Khan and recited by Nader Salam including Polaroid photos, analogue telephone set.

Image Courtesy of the artist and the Samdani Art Foundation 

The artworks in Familiar Stranger examine the space between memory and reality, and express the internal struggle between what is and what was.  For those who have left their “home” for work, study or other reasons, the idea of returning becomes embedded in their identity—sadly the reality can often be a disappointing and unpredictable process.  Included in the exhibition is Bangladeshi artist Shumon Ahmed’s sound installation What I Have Forgotten Could Fill An Ocean, What is Not Real Never Lived (2014), on loan from the Samdani Art Foundation’s Collection.  

The work explores Ahmed’s relationship with his mother, who, due to an iodine deficiency as a child, has a mild intellectual disability.  Ahmed grew up seeing his mother be discriminated and ridiculed by their family on a daily basis, and as a young child, this abuse deeply affected him.  Eventually he became ashamed of his mother and hated her for being imperfect.   

As time went by, Ahmed slowly rid himself of this poisonous stereotyping, learning that he was wrong to think of his mother in this way and was motivated to uncover the feelings he had always hidden away. This work is Ahmed’s confession of guilt, helping him come to terms with the true feelings he has always had for his mother; the deepest of love.  

Mikala Tai, Director of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art and curator of Familiar Stranger explained her reasons for including Ahmed’s work in the exhibition:  

“We were immediately drawn to the work of Shumon, and especially this piece, as it distils the curatorial premise of clarity at distance into a single work. The viewer is invited into the personal tensions that emerge when one is at distance from home and this work explores how the memory of home is reconstructed and reassessed from a distance.” 

An emotive work, Ahmed is not only expressing the clarity that can be achieved through distance, but also the melancholy disappointment of those who return “home” to find it not how they expected.  

 

Familiar Stranger at 4a Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, Sydney

Until 21 May 2017

The exhibition also includes work by Chun Yin Rainbow Chan, Bashir Makhoul, Veer Munshi, Shireen Taweel and Curtis Taylor