9 MARCH 2019 - 23 MARCH 2019 | Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
Alserkal Avenue collaborated with the Samdani Art Foundation on Fabric(ated) Fractures, an exhibition opened at Concrete, Dubai in March 2019. The group exhibition featured works by Bangladeshi, South Asian and Southeast Asian artists, and will explored ‘sensitive spaces’ – spaces that challenge ideas of nation, state, and territory.
On show from 9-23 March 2019, Fabric(ated) Fractures provided a platform to amplify the voices of artists from Bangladesh and South and Southeast Asia, and built on the exhibition There Once was a Village Here held at Dhaka Art Summit 2018. Curated by Samdani Art Foundation Artistic Director Diana Campbell Betancourt, Fabric(ated) Fractures also introduced new works from artists with a connection to Bangladesh.
Alserkal Avenue and the Samdani Art Foundation both champion homegrown talent in their respective regions, and this exhibition will further highlight the importance of patronage in creating a springboard for dialogue. Building on the longstanding cultural connections between the Middle East and South Asia, this collaboration will help highlight Bangladesh and the artists related to it. This collaboration serves as a bridge to Dhaka Art Summit 2020, which shifts its focus to explore Bengal’s position at the crossroads of historical exchange between Africa and Asia.
Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal Avenue, says: “The contribution of the Samdani Art Foundation in creating a space for dialogue about the history and artistic practice in Bangladesh and South Asia is invaluable. This collaboration with the Samdani Art Foundation is a natural extension of Alserkal Avenue’s mandate to support regional talent and will strengthen our shared arts ecosystem.”
The Samdani Art Foundation, a private art foundation based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was founded in 2011 by Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani to support the work of the country’s contemporary artists and architects. “We are delighted to be collaborating with Alserkal Avenue to bring further awareness of Bangladeshi and South Asian art and culture to Dubai - a place that is home to many people from our part of the world, and which serves as a connecting hub to the rest of the world. As we seek to form a new institution outside of Western paradigms – it is important for us to collaborate with our neighbours in the region and it is an honour for us to be partnering with Concrete as the venue for this exhibition,” said Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani.
Presented at Concrete, the OMA-designed building located in Alserkal Avenue, Fabric(ated) Fractures considers contexts that anthropologist Jason Cons describes as “sensitive spaces” in his 2016 book Sensitive Space: Fragmented Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border. Though often razed, with their people forced to succumb to the state, subdue to its needs, and submit to the domination of majority forces, the social fabric of these spaces often remains intact even if its people are displaced and their dwellings levelled – a testament of human resilience. The artists and works featured in Fabric(ated) Fractures respond to the complexities of these sensitive spaces.
Divides in South Asia were fabricated by the British as a colonial tool for subjugation. When the British carved out Pakistan from an independent India in 1947, establishing East and West wings, they created a country united only by its common majority religion, Islam – ignoring the plurality of cultures. This is especially true when considered 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, when people fought for the right to speak, live, and work in their own language. Linguistic lines offer far more room for cultural diversity; there are at least 42 other languages spoken within this territory, and regional lenses, such as overarching headers like ‘MENASA’, tend to filter out the many strands of difference found on a local level. This exhibition aims to weave a more complex picture of the vibrant and diverse facets that comprise a yet-to-be crystalised Bangladeshi identity in a country less than fifty years old.
The artists in this exhibition bear witness to violence unfolding in their communities, and their work often acts as a register for this trauma, grounding the constricting present in a more porous past. 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.
“Two years on from Concrete’s inauguration, I am heartened that we are expanding on Alserkal Avenue’s mandate and providing a platform to promote regional talent and create discourse around important artist-led issues. The work of the Dhaka Art Summit in amplifying the voices of artists from Bangladesh is a true testament to the patronage and leadership behind the Samdani Art Foundation. Building on their work in a space designed to host museum-grade exhibitions feels like a natural fit and I look forward to seeing our cultural collaboration come to life,” says Vilma Jurkute, Director of Alserkal Avenue.
Fabric(ated) Fractures is a collaboration between the Samdani Art Foundation and Alserkal Avenue at Concrete, Dubai.