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DAS 2026

Our curators and art mediators have been dreaming up the 7th edition of DAS - TONDRA. In TONDRA we will float between dreams and reality. The meaning of the word TONDRA in Bangla can be described as a state of existence where reality and dreams collide; a lucid dream that captivates the soul. 


The Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is an international, non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia. With a core focus on Bangladesh, DAS re-examines how we think about these forms of art in both a regional and an international context.

The meaning of the word TONDRA in Bangla can be described as a state of existence where reality and dreams collide; a lucid dream that captivates the soul.



TONDRA is also a common female name in Bangladesh, which became popular during the mid 1990s-2000s for a character named Tondra in a novel by the Bangladeshi author Humayun Ahmed. Our story of TONDRA emerged from heartbreak expressed by a young visitor at DAS 2023, who wrote messages for a woman named TONDRA on the walls of our exhibition such as “Everyone is here, but you are missing from my life”. His writing style ranged from graffiti to poetry, referring to his Tondra as ‘a cloudy day’ and other beautiful metaphors that connected his deepest personal feelings for his beloved to the stories and films of Humayun Ahmed.  


We see this visitor as an emerging artist who found the need to express the feelings inside of him in a public cultural forum, transforming the delirious state of heartbreak into something others can connect to, as we do with some of our favourite love songs. TONDRA is a journey through the landscapes of emotions, where the line between what we feel, what we see and what we imagine becomes blurry.  We want to draw the visitor into a TONDRA state inside of the exhibition so they can awaken to the realities of the world and dream the world differently outside.

Every edition of DAS is new, but builds on ideas we introduced in previous editions. TONDRA encapsulates the liminal space where we also find Dilbar, a Bangladeshi migrant worker in the UAE whose name means "full of heart", balancing on the edge of sleep and consciousness, where the impossible becomes a possibility. This captivating film by Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siris showcased at DAS 2018, carries the story of Dilbar, existing in a dream state, navigating between an under construction museum and his labour camp. 


In dreams the wildest things are possible, and Dhaka Art Summit is napping in 2024 and 2025 to be wide awake in February 2026 for our 7th edition. Don’t worry about the year delay since we have something exciting in store for February 2025 - a celebration at Srihatta in Sylhet where we will also be producing collaborative projects for DAS 2026. 


1. Aishwarya Arumbakkam, Untitled 2016, photography. Courtesy of the artist.


2. Photograph of a message left behind for a girl named Tondra by the young visitor during the 2023 Dhaka Art Summit.

3. Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Chai Siris, Dilbar (2013), Single-Channel Video Installation. The film was initially commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation and we are grateful to be able to partner with the foundation to showcase Dilbar in DAS 2018. Courtesy of the artist and Sharjah Art Foundation.

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