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Dhaka Art Summit 2020

Many processes of social transformation may contribute to forms of profound structural change in society yet remain relatively invisible before attaining a critical mass. An extraordinary example from Bangladesh is Mangal Shobhajatra, a community procession to celebrate Pohela Boishakh (Bengali New Year) created in 1987 by Jessore-based collective Charupith. Today it attracts massive crowds who carry painted paper masks, crowns, traditional dolls, and large sculptures that integrate folk forms and motifs, and perform music and comedy from Bengali culture in public space across the country. This is not a generations old tradition. It is an initiative started as part of Charupith’s wider practice of drawing inspiration from the plurality of rural culture in Bangladesh and creating a festive atmosphere for people across generations to experience the potential of art to create spaces of freedom. Close to 10,000 young students have graduated from Charupith’s independent school of fine arts. This series of masks was created by senior artists with a long-term engagement in the festival, speaking to the role that artists in Bangladesh play in embodying secular values.

Charupith lead a mask-making workshops for Dhaka school children on the children’s days of DAS.

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