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  • Colonial Movements

    ALL PROJECTS Colonial Movements ​ Ongoing legacies of colonialism establish and maintain conditions of exploitation throughout the global majority world (the world outside of Europe and North America which hosts most of the human population on the planet). Naked capitalism and internationalism, sometimes masked under the guise of religion and development aid, continues to drive networks of power controlling the globe. Revealed through its extractive actions of planting and uprooting indigenous goods and people, colonialism still extends deep into the furthest reaches of the Earth through the seeds of commodities. Artists across generations have made works that reflect how histories of land are intimately entangled/embedded with narratives of hunger, dispossession and ultimately erasure. Colonisation is inscribed in the physical and cultural DNA of the worlds we inhabit, and the artists working across these spheres help us navigate through complex webs of greed and addiction to imagine solidarities for alternative and autonomous futures. Adebunmi Gbadebo b. 1992, Livingston; lives and works in Newark True Blue: Peter, Peter 2 and Phillis, 2019 Human Black Hair, Cotton, Rice Paper, Denim, Hair Dye, Silk Screen Print Commissioned for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Claire Oliver Gallery Adebunmi Gbadebo addresses the concepts of land, memory and erasure in her work. Sheets of paper constructed with beaten cotton linters and human hair collected from black barber shops serve as abstracted documentations of genetic histories, embedded in the strands of hair. The dominant blue dye traces Gbadebo’s maternal family history to three plantations where her ancestors were forced into slavery. Gbadebo’s use of indigo inevitably links her historical inquiry to Bengal, where the plant was grown as a cash crop from around the year of 1777 by the British East India Company. The more recent histories of Bangladesh and the USA (where Gbadebo traces her family’s history) are interlinked through the garment industry. The bold, blue colour produced from the indigo plant can serve as a reminder of the vast amount of denim clothing produced in Bangladesh for international export. The conditions under which the clothing worn by western consumers is produced by Bangladeshi workers, should not be erased from history. Using black hair, cotton, rice paper, indigo and sometimes silkscreened photo imagery, Gbadebo creates abstract ‘portraits’ of her enslaved ancestors. The DNA of those people still exists in these works of art. She perceives hair as a means to position her people and their histories as central to the narratives in her work. Annalee Davis b. 1963, Barbados; lives and works in Barbados F is for Frances, 2015–16 Coloured pencil on plantation ledger pages Courtesy of the artist The last will and testament of Thomas Applewhaite written in August 1816 directed that six years after his death his ‘little favourite Girl Slave named Frances shall be manumitted and set free from all and all manner of Servitude and slavery whatsoever.’ At the time, Applewhaite was the owner of Walkers – the site where the artist Annalee Davis lives, works, and explores. F is for Frances maps Frances’ name in a series of seven drawings on ledger pages. The letters forming her name are comprised of 17th-and 18th-century sherds found in the soil of former sugarcane fields, suggesting fragments of history understood only in part – usually through the words of the white colonial-settler and most often a male voice. With Frances, another voice becomes audible and visible. Davis has a hybrid practice as a visual artist, cultural instigator, educator, and writer. With the media of printmaking, painting, installation, and video art, she works at the intersection of biography and history, focusing on post-plantation economies through engaging with a particular landscape on Barbados. Davis has been involved in the founding and co-founding of numerous initiatives, including Fresh Milk (f. 2011), an arts platform and micro-residency programme, Caribbean Linked (f. 2012), an annual residency in Aruba, and Tilting Axis (f. 2015) an independent visual arts platform bridging the Caribbean through annual encounters. Apnavi Makanji b. 1976, Bombay; lives and works in Geneva Appropriation Disinformation – Nature and the Body Politic, 2019 Collage on found paper Commissioned for DAS 2020 Courtesy of the artist and Tarq Sourced from the Atlas International Larousse Politique et Economique (1950), the pages making up Apnavi Makanji’s collages are records of the treasures of the globe as represented through the eyes of imperial powers in their quest for progress and the modern condition. In fact, these pages of statistics are effectively lists of extractivism. They remain silent on the violence inflicted on the environment, on modern-day slavery, and on the displacement of indigenous communities. The artist has chosen to look at them instead as tools of capitalism and proof of systematic violence. These collages are not only a representation of what has been forgotten, buried, or annihilated, they also stand in for a subconscious that is mutant and diseased. In its soft sensuality and secretions, the work attempts to trigger a visceral memory of a situated environment that existed before it was reduced to highly mobile commodities. Installed across the gallery as punctuation points between walls, these collages help the viewer navigate a complex history of connectivity across diverse contexts spanning Africa, South, Southeast, and East Asia, South America, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands, as well as North America and Europe. Makanji works with the media of installation, drawing, and film, producing complex constructs informed by botany, memory, displacement, and environmental urgency. They are interested in exploring the intersection of these concepts within the context of human-engendered climate emergency. Candice Lin b. 1979, Concord; lives and works in Los Angeles The Tea Table, 2016 Etching on Japanese Kozo paper The Roots of Industry, 2016 Etching on Japanese Kozo paper Courtesy of the artist, François Ghebaly,and Gasworks Candice Lin’s works establish a network of connections between historical and contemporary Asian and African diasporas in the Americas, as well as their generational traumas. In The Roots of Industry, Lin reinterprets an engraving of Bolivian silver mines by Theodor de Bry. The Andean potato was cultivated to feed indigenous miners mining silver and mercury in South America. This silver and the excess potatoes travelled across the sea and fuelled the Industrial Revolution, changing the course of world history. In The Tea Table, Lin appropriates an engraving by John Bowles (circa 1710) which was a satire on affluent fashionable ladies and featured a devil lurking under the table as Envy drives Justice and Truth out of a door. In this rendition, Lin draws connections between tea, opium, and sugar by replacing the symbolic figures with images of tea production and opium abuse. Lin works predominantly with sculpture and video, addressing notions of cultural, gendered, and racial difference, rampant sexualities, and deviant behaviour. Interested in the fluid boundaries between the self and the other, she examines how Western ideologies of the self-influence the politics of power within notions of individualism, selfhood, freedom, and difference. Dhali Al Mamoon b. 1958, Chandpur; lives and works in Chittagong শতাব্দীর উপাখ্যান (The story of the Century), 2019 Spices, tea, and indigo on paper and canvas Commissioned for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist The history of colonialism is objectively the history of despair. Dhali Al Mamoon’s ongoing work searches for the self through the narrative of historically contextualised images, with a nod to the existentialism found in the analysis of every work of art. Our appearance, sartorial/material representation, and constructed sense of self carry the legacies of colonisation; history, memory, and flashes of coincidence prime our perception of the world. In free-play kinetic works on paper and canvas, the artist draws in commodities that changed the course of South Asian history under the control of the British East India Company: tea and indigo and spices. Tea and indigo, in both solid and liquid form, correspond to the colours of amber and blue used extensively in the artist’s palette, evoking a sense of melancholy associated with the history of how these materials were misused to exploit people and lands. Al Mamoon works with drawings, paintings, kinetic sculptures and installations, addressing issues of knowledge, history and identity. Constructing complex experiences, he is interested in deconstructing the collective memory of his homeland of Bangladesh. He focuses on the ways in which colonialism de-humanised, exploited and dislocated people from their own land, culture and tradition, separating them from traditional systems of knowledge. Elia Nurvista b. 1983, Yogyakarta; lives and works in Yogyakarta Sugar Zucker, 2016–2020 Crystallised sugar, mural Courtesy of the artist. Realised with additional support from the Indonesian Embassy of Bangladesh Beyond their sparkling surfaces, sugar and jewels are linked by stories of violent exploitation of labour and the environment. From Africa and the Caribbean to Asia, from Europe to the Pacific, the history of sugar is tied to the mass movement of people around the world as part of exploitative plantation economies that fuelled a global demand for its sweet taste. This model of commodity production continues today; the amount of money that producers of commodities make is far removed from the taxes that foreign governments levy on them and from the profits that traders and corporations enjoy as a result of addictive cycles of consumption. Elia Nurvista’s gemstone-shaped candy sculptures remind of an underlying bitterness behind the sweet ‘taste’ that we have grown accustomed to. Nurvista presents her social research through mixed-media installations, food workshops, and group discussions. Her predominant focus is on the production and distribution of food, and its broader social and historical implications. Nurvista’s works explore the intersection between food and commodities, and their relationship to colonialism, economic and political power, and status. Faiham Ebna Sharif b. 1985, Dhaka, lives and works in Dhaka and Uppsala Cha Chakra: Tea Tales of Bangladesh, 2015–ongoing Photographs, archival material Commissioned for DAS 2020 Courtesy of the artist The Baganiya communities of Bangladesh are made up of tea workers who originate from at least ninety different ethnic groups from across South Asia formerly known as British India. While their ethnic and linguistic origins differ, their histories are intertwined as they were forcefully moved as indentured servants to the tea gardens of Sylhet and Chittagong, where they remain to this day. After the partition of British India in 1947 and the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, these people became citizens of Bangladesh and lost touch with their ancestral homelands. Cha Chakra is Faiham Ebna Sharif’s research-based work that uses old printed materials, advertisements, and historical documents show the ongoing story of inequity and exploitation behind the second most consumed drink (after water). His research extends into the resistance of the community as it strives to hold onto its traditions in this newly commissioned presentation. Faiham Ebna Sharif is an artist and researcher interested in long-term explorations of subjects such as tea plantations, the film industry of Bangladesh, the Rohingya refugee crisis, HIV patients, climate change, and migration from the micro-scale of the local bus to the meta-scale of humanity. Although Sharif studied international relations, he chose photography as his medium of expression. Sharif collects manuscripts, published primary sources (such as newspapers and other local media), as well as visual records (painting, photography and video) and oral histories parallel to and contributing to his artistic practice. Gisela McDaniel b. 1995, Bellevue; lives and works in Detroit I am M(in)e, 2019–2020 Oil and assemblage on canvas with sound Commissioned for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist Many people are unaware that the United States still holds five inhabited territories from the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean that fall under the definition of a colony. The power and interests of the US military are given as reasons to deny the people of these colonies the same rights of self-governance that America fought for in the War of Independence in 1776. Gisela McDaniel is a mixed-race Chamorro artist whose DNA carries the complex history of colonisation on the American territory of Guam. Her paintings subvert traditional power relations by allowing the subject to talk back to the viewer through overlaid audio interviews. As evidenced in the works of artists like Paul Gauguin, power dynamics can be extremely problematic between native women and the men colonising their lands, and McDaniel’s work pushes back against a primitivist gaze. This haunting new series of portraits provide a portal into the struggle of mixed-race people to find a sense of belonging and to pick a side in conflicted cultural and political battles for autonomy. McDaniel’s work is based on a process of healing from her own sexual trauma while engaging with other female survivors through the practice of portraiture. Interweaving assemblages of audio, oil painting, and motion-sensored technology, she creates pieces that ‘come to life’ and literally ‘talk back’ to the viewer, giving agency to the subjects of her paintings. Hira Nabi b. 1987, Lahore; lives and works in Lahore Good Seeds | Bad Seeds, 2019–2020 Relief prints in vitrine Commissioned for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist Any attempt to map a history of plant species reveals that it is as migrant and varied, if not more than the human species. Can territorialization be temporal as well as geographical? Good Seeds | Bad Seeds is a series thinking through botanical imaginaries and their influence upon identity making. Building upon a collection of archival Pakistani postage stamps as a site of initial inquiries into marking terrain, cultivating and farming it, extracting from it, hydrating and dehydrating, and designing it in specific ways – Hira Nabi proposes an allowing for a set of future possibilities as a way to expand an inclusive, regional identity of cross-pollination and care. The work explores the arrival and transfer of seeds via colonialism, failed botanical migrations, and economies of land usage. Nabi is a filmmaker and multimedia artist. Her practice moves across research and visual production interrogating the relationship between memory, history and place. She is currently working on researching cinema houses in urban Pakistan, and on identity-making and cultural production in Lahore through a study of its gardens and botanical influences. Hlubaishu Chowdhuri b. 1992, Khagrachhari, Bangladesh; Lives and works in Chattagram Shape of Map 1, 2017 Acrylic on canvas Courtesy of the artist and Samdani Art Foundation Shape of Map 2, 2017 Acrylic on canvas Courtesy of the artist Shape of Map 3, 2019 Acrylic on canvas. Commissioned for the DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist The Chittagong Hill Tracts in Southeast Bangladesh are comprised of three districts (Khagrachari, Rangamati and Bandarban) hosting eleven different ethnic communities with over a thousand years of diverse cultural, linguistic, and ethnic histories that differ from those of the majority Bengali population of Bangladesh. Chowdhuri’s paintings depict the map of Chattagram (previously Chittagong) division, and forms of figures and objects emerge in the voids of intertwined lines that seem to pulse like veins. In her map series, the artist paints internally conflicted lands. She explores the paradox of forced migration of indigenous people in the face of their non-severable spiritual connections to their lands, stressing the importance of overcoming conflict derived from cultural and ethnic differences in order to find new ways to peacefully coexist. Chowdhuri works predominantly with painting. As a member of the Marma indigenous community of the Chittagong Hill Tracts, her art is greatly influenced by the region’s socio-political instability and cultural history. Chowdhuri’s paintings reflect the existential crises of indigenous people over time through motifs drawn from indigenous knitting and craft techniques. Kamruzzaman Shadhin b. 1974, Thakurgaon; lives and works in Dhaka and Thakurgaon The Fibrous Souls, 2018–2020 Jute, Cotton Thread, Brass, Clay Realised in collaboration with Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts. Commissioned and Produced by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Samdani Art Foundation Kamruzzaman Shadhin’s collaborative work interweaves strands of history that seem innocently distinct from but are in fact connected to present-day peasant conditions in South Asia. The artist invited ecological migrants residing in his village who moved from the ‘jute tracks’ of Southern Bangladesh to create a memorial reminding us of how the desire and pursuit of a commodity economy continues to transform the land that we stand on. Seventy giant shikas hang in a formation based upon the Assam Bengal Railway that operated under British India from 1892–1942. Railways were a form of connectivity that displaced people and their ways of life; their construction transformed Bengal’s lands from growing food to producing globally desired commodities (jute, indigo, opium). Shadhin’s participatory practice incorporates sculpture, painting, installation, performance, video, and public art interventions. His work maintains a satirical edge, dealing directly with the politics of environmental degradation and destruction and its effects on communities across Bangladesh. Migration, social justice, and local history are recurring themes in his works. He is the founder of the Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts (founded 2001) and a founding member of Chhobir Haat (founded 2005). Liu Chuang b. 1978, Hubei; lives and works in Shanghai Bitcoin Mining and Field Recordings of Ethnic Minorities, 2018 Three-channel video, 4K, 5.1 surround sound, 40 min Courtesy of the artist and Antenna Space.Commissioned for Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence with the support of the Mao Jihong Arts Foundation Liu Chuang observes the displacement of indigenous peoples and cultures left in the wake of harvesting massive amounts of energy from hydroelectric dams, connecting historical narratives and stories of material and immaterial profit and loss across Asia via the mountainous region known as Zomia – which extends into the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. The work links political power, the extraction of minerals and energy from deep within the earth, and new currencies seeking to evade centralised national control, moving from the fifth century BCE to present-day China through a mixture of shot and found footage, the narration of fact and fiction, and sound. Chuang works with found materials, such as window grilles and pulp-fiction books, in addition to video, installation, architecture, and performance. He critically reflects upon life in contemporary China, focusing on its culture of intensive industry and globalisation. The artist is interested in attending to larger socio-political phenomena that often go unnoticed in day-to-day existence. Madiha Sikander b. 1987, Hyderabad; lives and works between Karachi and Vancouver Majmua, 2017–18 Cloves, monofilament, glass, metal beads Courtesy of the artist The artist would like to acknowledge the labour of the students who wove with her: Habiba Saleheen, Mohammad Omer,Yumna Ahmed, Sana Zahid, Azher Khan, Aiman Rauf, Humaira Salaams, Danyal Begg, Hussain Sanjwani, Bakhtawar Majeed, Mansoor Elahi, Salman Siddiqui, Mohammad Abbas, Attika Shahab, Shanzay Ikhlaq, Zulfiqar Ali, Vimal Khatri, Mehwish John, Ayesha Sabih, Nimra Shoaib, Aniqa Sohail, Shayan Nasir, Fiza Batool, Shahrukh Shafique, Sidra Sohail, Sobia Sohail and Maisam Hussain Madiha Sikander’s Majuma (‘assemblage’ in Urdu) is an installation inspired by the similarities in the practices of miniature painting and Canadian First Nations weaving in terms of their relationship with labour and materiality. Cloves, beads, and microfilaments are woven together to create a transparent and powerfully scented curtain that invites us to consider how the world we experience today was designed by labour and trade routes drawn up by imperial powers. ‘Each lozenge refigures how the lines of the Silk Road and the routes of the Spice Trade map the Indian subcontinent, trade routes tracing to the Neolithic and extending to Southern Europe… Africa… and Asia. Each bead recalls the European expropriation of indigenous lands in the Americas and of human beings in the African continent – the ‘slave trade beads’ Europeans used in their dealings with indigenous American groups.’ (da Silva, 2018) Sikander works with found objects, such as books, newspaper images, and family photographs, as well as items from flea markets. Her work addresses historical erasure and memory, notably in relation to labour, space, and material. Through repurposing and layering familiar materials, Sikander collapses the different tenses of time and space. Mahbubur Rahman b. 1969, Dhaka; lives and works in Dhaka Transformation, 2018–2019 Two-Channel HD Video, 14:35 min Courtesy of the artist. This work will be activated by a performance on 7 February 3.30pm Unlike individuals, ideas have the potential to become immortal. Since 2004, Mahbubur Rahman’s performance, sculpture, and video work has been embodying the popular folk story of the hero Nurul Din from the Rangpur Peasant Rebellion of 1783, specifically drawing references from the late Bangladeshi writer Syed Shamsul Haq’s 1982 play Nuruldiner Sara Jibon (Nuraldin: A Life). Just as Haq revived Nurul Din (Nurul Uddin) as an allegory to fight back against the military rule of the 1980s, Rahman evokes this figure to encourage standing up against the injustices of today. Rahman’s fascination with this story begins in a scene when Nurul Din was a child accompanying his emaciated father to the paddy fields to help plough the field. Everything had been taken away from his family, including their bull, as a consequence of their unpaid tax bills to the British Raj who controlled the land and demanded it grow indigo rather than food. Straining under the hot sun, Nurul Din’s father tried to tow the land without a bull, and he collapsed and died under the weight of the plough, groaning like a bull in the process. Rahman created this two-channel video from a performance he realised with Bangladeshi indigo farmers of today, Bihari migrant rickshaw pullers in Kolkata (likened to human horses), and horse riders on the bank of the Padma river in Bangladesh (the same source of water as Kolkata’s Ganga river) surrounding the Farakka Barrage that has divided these once continuously flowing waters between India and Bangladesh since 1975. These locations and stories link East and West Bengal via their shared British colonial history; times have changed, but the stories of oppression of the working class persist. Rahman’s Transformation is a call to rise up, remembering brave figures whose ghosts (that live on through stories) can’t rest until justice is served. Rahman works across painting, video, installation, and performance and is one of the most internationally recognised Bangladeshi artists of his generation. He pushes the experience of art beyond visual pleasure, addressing wider social responsibilities in reference to his personal experience of anguish and anxiety in the context of contemporary Bangladesh. He is a co-founder of Britto (f. 2002), a non-profit space that initiated a successful alternate art scene that breaks from and challenges the persisting colonial barriers found within academic art institutions that discourage cultural reform. Munem Wasif b. 1983, Dhaka; lives and works in Dhaka Spring Song, 2017–2019 Series of 27 Archival pigment prints Sutra, 2019 Silkscreen and Pigment print on archival paper Kala Pani, 2019 Series of 14 Archival pigment prints and ambush text prints on archival paper Documents, 2017–2019 Photographs, text, found footage, archival material, variable sizes Realised with partial support of Samdani Art Foundation and NTU CCA Singapore. Courtesy the artist and Project 88, Mumbai Munem Wasif’s work has long been exploring the concept of a border, re-examining the questions around its formation. How are borders constructed? Who constructs them? How are they broken and re-formed? Wasif began visiting Rohingya refugee camps on the Myanmar/Bangladesh border in 2009. The size of the camps has grown exponentially since the violent incidents beginning in 2017 that have caused hundreds of thousands of refugees to flee into Bangladesh. The artist is unable to type the word ‘Rohingya’ correctly because his computer lacks Burmese language programming; in Myanmar the word ‘Rohingya’ is expunged from official discourse in favour of the term ‘Bengali.’ Silkscreened onto a British colonial map, the distorted typography of the word ‘Rohingya’ hints at Myanmar’s denial of the existence of this ethnic group which has been living within its borders for generations. Kala Pani – which translates to Dark Water – is a new series of black and white photographs which seems innocuous at first. The presence of dark, featureless masses of water, an empty ocean in its most ordinary form, stands as a stark reminder of what Rohingyas have gone through to escape mass extermination. Recalling harrowing details that were told to him by survivors, Wasif created texts which he paired with images to reveal the refugees’ escape at sea. The works reflect the constant flow of migration in the Bay of Bengal across many centuries, where border lines are lost in the shade of night. What can you hold onto when running away to save your life? How can you be, belong, or settle when nobody accepts you as a citizen? How do you legally prove your very existence after decades of systemic violence? Spring Song (2017–2019) is a work in progress that revolves around objects found in Rohingya camps. Placed against vivid monochromatic backgrounds, these precarious assemblages, decaying documents, and faded photographs convey fragmented memories and feelings of displacement. These objects are a testament of determination; a will to eat, to play or to simply reminisce about one's past –in other words, to have the freedom to feel human. Nabil Rahman The Taste of Tea, 2019 Collage of images, texts, objects, artworks collected from tea garden Commissioned for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist. Realised with additional support from Kabi Dilwar Foundation Born into Tea: Conversation and Songs with artists who currently live in Bangladeshi tea estates. Sunday 9, 5pm First Floor Nabil Rahman was born in and currently lives in the tea-district of Northeast Bangladesh, Sylhet; he was raised in New York and has experienced how value and values (mis)translate across these vastly different yet connected contexts. The least expensive cup of tea at Starbucks costs around $1.75 in the United States, while the daily wage of a tea picker can be less than the equivalent of $1.25 per day of work. Women sometimes collect more than 23kg of tea in one day, and tea is the second most consumed drink after water. The artist plays the role of facilitator when sharing his privilege with creative individuals working in neighbouring tea gardens, allowing their creativity to bloom in ways not tied to capitalist production, searching for new shared tools of expression. On Sunday 9 February at 5pm, artists who live in Bangladesh’s tea estates will perform songs and engage with visitors of DAS in the South Plaza, facilitated through the work of Rahman. Rahman’s practice archives the industrial present using found objects, mark-making and the written word. Creating ironic references to the histories and languages of abstraction, he investigates its politics by weaving traces of the global flows of material into his work, destabilising the supposed aim of abstraction in search of a ‘pure form.’ Neha Choksi b. 1973, Belleville; lives and works in Los Angeles and Mumbai The American President Travels (East), 2002 (remade 2019) Installation with wood, bamboo, paint, printed fabric. Commissioned and Produced by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Project88 As a study of the possible ecologies of powerful males, this installation visually configures a scratchy and deteriorated archive of the 20th-century travels of nine U.S. Presidents to over two dozen eastern nations, both revealing the paper diplomacy conducted through American newspapers and revelling in the comedy of each President filling his predecessor’s shoes for the public’s family album. A sheen of romantic getaway as well as ‘I-scratch-you-if-you-scratch-me’ is lent to the many recorded moments through the use of sheer silky fabric, backscratchers, and the form of a massage table. Working across performance, video, installation, sculpture, and other formats, Choksi disrupts logic by setting up poetic and absurd interventions in the lives of everything – from stone to plant, animal to self, friends to institutions. Embracing a confluence of disciplines, she allows in strands of her intellectual, cultural and social contexts to revisit the entanglements of time, consciousness, and socialisation. Rossella Biscotti b. 1978, Molfetta; lives and works in Brussels and Rotterdam Clara, 2019 VOC document transferred on wall (cargo list ship Knappenhof, departed from Bengal on 30–11–1740 arrived in Delft/Rotterdam on 20–07–1741 passing through Cape) Realised with additional support from the Italian Embassy of Bangladesh and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh Rossella Biscotti is interested in the power of storytelling and how this can open up a deeper exploration of untraced by history that reveals changing value systems. One of the stories that fascinates her is the story of Clara, a female rhinoceros who was brought to the Netherlands from Bengal in 1741 by a captain of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) along with a large shipment of textiles. While the detailed listings of textiles was declared and can be deduced from the reproduction of the ship’s original manifest document reproduced on the wall, Clara was not, suggesting that the captain was trying to profit off her exoticness as a separate source of income from his official VOC duties. Clara toured around Europe for seventeen years. While she is not visible in this official document, collective memory keeps stories (like Clara’s) alive. Biscotti describes the constitution of sentient beings as they are, instead of how they may be perceived, using sculpture, images and other materials. Her work explores forgotten or untraced events and the changing value systems they reveal. She explores the individual narratives of those affected by mining, exploitation and confinement, drawing from oral, technical, archival, and field research. Rossella Biscotti b. 1978, Molfetta; lives and works in Brussels and Rotterdam Surati and Princess of Kasiruta, 2019 Material line natural rubber, food colouring Courtesy of the artist and Mor-Charpentier. Realised with additional support from the Italian Embassy of Bangladesh and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh Made from cast natural rubber embellished with food-colouring and batik-inspired patterns, this installation carries Biscotti’s interpretations of the powerful female characters in the Buru Quartet (1980–88), a series of novels by the late Indonesian author Pramoedya Ananta Toer while he was in prison. On a material level, the first rubber seeds were brought to Indonesia from the Belgian Congo, and batik techniques were exported to Africa via Europe as African Wax Cloth, speaking to the global scale of colonialism. Pramodeya’s novels tell the story of nationhood narrated on the bodies of women, whose only inheritable possessions were batik fabric and jewellery. Among the characters is a woman called Surati who deliberately infects herself with smallpox to avoid colonial subjugation as a concubine on a sugar plantation, and Annalies Mellema, who is shipped to Holland as property. Biscotti was inspired by the journeys and survival strategies employed by these women to resist the patriarchal colonial regimes they were born into, and imagines their characters in design motifs cast into these seductive floor-based forms. Biscotti describes the constitution of sentient beings as they are, instead of how they may be perceived, using sculpture, images and other materials. Her work explores forgotten or untraced events and the changing value systems they reveal. She explores the individual narratives of those affected by mining, exploitation and confinement, drawing from oral, technical, archival, and field research. Samsul Alam Helal b. 1985, Dhaka; lives and works in Dhaka Disappearing Roots, 2019 Photography, pigment prints, video with sound, 2:20 min Courtesy of the artist Samsul Alam Helal’s series Disappearing Roots considers the displacement of indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. The Kaptai Dam was built in 1962 as a hydropower source, and it produces about 5% of the total electricity consumed by Bangladesh. However, its creation displaced over 100,000 people (70% Chakma) and also submerged many homes, including the palace of the Chakma king which remains buried deep underneath a lake that is currently frequented by tourists. Globally over 10 million people per year are displaced by World Bank development projects (dams and infrastructure projects), according to an article on the adjacent video by Liu Chuang published in ArtReview. Using video and photography created through the artist’s long-term engagement with the Hill Tract communities, Helal’s work captures the remaining traces of ancient ways of life, highlighting the violence of gentrification and the trauma found in submerged symbols of cultural autonomy. ‘If even a royal palace can drown, what hope is there for ordinary people?’ asks the artist. Helal works with photography, sound, 3D models, and video to document the experiences of communities that are often part of the working class or a minority. His work explores the identities, dreams, and longings of their individual members. Helal prefers to explore these in a studio set-up, blurring boundaries between documentary photography and fiction. Sawangwongse Yawnghwe b. 1971, Shan State; lives and works in Chiang Mai and Zuphen The Opium Parallax II, 2019 Acrylic on silk and canvas Commissioned for DAS 2020 with in-kind support from the Rijksakademie and Jim Thompson Art Centre. Courtesy of the artist. Realised with additional support from the Embassy of the Netherlands in Bangladesh In Sawangwongse Yawnghwe’s painterly practice, historical and political analyses of Shan State (Burma) are intertwined with personal and familial histories. This work contextualises the Shan State heroin-opium complex within opium’s long and invisible history of impacting the drawing of borders across vast geographies. Opium traverses not only national borders, but blurs the line between the legal and the illegal. ‘Because relationships are informal and regulated in irregular and informal patterns and because the balance of power and coalitions among the powers-that-be are unstable and shifting… no single economic-commercial actor can dominate the field… Entrepreneurial groups… operate with only one goal in mind… making and maximising profit. It is a world where the colour of flags or ideology is not as important as the colour of wealth.’ (Chao Tzang Yawnghwe, The Political Economy of the Opium Trade: Implications for Shan State, 2003) Yawnghwe works with painting and installation, addressing often fictional archives as a critique of Myanmar’s ethnocentric nationalism. Growing up in the context of the country’s patterns of military repression and domination, his work intertwines his personal experience with politics. Yawnghwe’s family history of political engagement represents a point of crossing of the two. Shiraz Bayjoo b. 1979, Port Louis; lives and works in London and the Indian Ocean region Pran Kouraz, 2019 Mixed fabrics, dye-sublimation ink on canvas, super 16mm HD video, 14:48 min Commissioned by INIVA and Art Night London. Courtesy of the artist and Ed Cross Fine Art Shiraz Bayjoo’s immersive environment Pran Kouraz (meaning ‘take courage’ in Mauritian Creole) is inspired by his own history in Mauritius, once known as the Maroon Republic, a place created through the will and imagination to escape and overcome slavery and colonial subjugation. The story of the escaped slave becomes a wider metaphor about creating a new world on the back of migration and displacement where hybridity becomes a tool for freedom, survival, and self-transformation in the wake of trauma. Bayjoo worked with a group of eight-year-old migrant students in the UK, asking them to explore their rights as young people and to consider their own stories of courage and overcoming. The children critique the experiences of transmigratory groups today from their experiences of isolation, loss, and displacement stemming from patriarchal colonial legacies, power structures, and relationships that continue to endure and dominate. The resulting conversation, presented in the form of a film, creates a visual metaphor for the multiplicity of pressures facing humanity today. Bayjoo works with painting, photography, video, installation, and artefacts stored in public and personal archives. His work addresses ideas of nationhood and the exploration of identity tied to the history and legacy of European colonialism. Drawing from a past of complex relationships of migration and trade, he traces the meaning of postcolonial collective identity. Somnath Hore b. 1921, Chittagong; d. 2006, Santiniketan Wound series, 1979 Two Pulp Prints Courtesy of Samdani Art Foundation ‘The Famine of 1943, the communal riots of 1946, the devastations of war, all the wounds and wounded I have seen, are engraved on my consciousness…Wounds is what I saw everywhere around me. A scarred tree, a road gouged by a truck tyre, a man knifed for no visible or rational reason… The object was eliminated; only wounds remained,’ reflected Somnath Hore, an artist celebrated in Indian art history who was born in what is now Bangladesh. He transformed hand-made paper into scarred, blistered, pierced, and wounded surfaces reminiscent of human skin in the aftermath of trauma in the highly experimental Wounds Series from the 1970s. This body of work speaks not only to the violent regional history that the artist lived through in the build-up and aftermath of the 1947 partition of British India and Bangladesh’s subsequent war for independence in 1971, but also to the social scars of division found across our shared human history. Hore worked to document and reinscribe the suffering working class into public memory, testifying to his important role as an artist-witness in a time of historical crisis. His works were published in various revolutionary publications, notably those of the Communist party. Hore invented and developed various printmaking techniques in addition to working in painting and sculpture. Later on in his career, Hore worked as an educator at multiple arts institutions, such as the Indian College of Art and Draftsmanship (Kolkata), Delhi College of Art, MS University (Baroda) and Kala Bhavan, Visva Bharati. Thao Nguyen Phan b. 1987, Ho Chi Minh City; lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City Mute Grain, 2019 Three-channel video, colour, sound, 15:45 min Commissioned by Sharjah Art Foundation for SB14. Courtesy of the artist Mute Grain (2019) examines the little-discussed 1945 famine in French Indochina during the Japanese occupation (1940–5), in which over two million people died of starvation, partly due to Japanese demands to grow jute over rice to support their war economy. This three-channel film poetically weaves together oral histories, folk tales, and lyrical chronicles to tell a story that history left behind in Vietnam, creating narratives that sit at the border of fantasy and reality. Beyond her research in Vietnam, Thao Nguyen Phan also consulted Bengali literature in creating the work, notably Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Anandamath (1882), set in the Bengal famine of 1770. Her film revolves around a young woman named Tám, who becomes a hungry ghost unable to move to the next life, and Ba, who anxiously searches for his sister. Ba (‘March’) and Tám (‘August’) represent the poorest months of the lunar calendar, when farmers once borrowed money and worked side jobs to sustain themselves. Phan works with painting, video, installation, and what she calls ‘theatrical fields,’ such as performance gesture and moving images. Utilising literature, philosophy, and open poetic spaces conducive to reflection, she highlights unconventional issues arising from history and tradition. This allows her to challenge received ideas and social conventions. In 2012, Phan co-founded the collective Art Labor, whose work can be experienced in the South Plaza exhibition The Collective Body. Yasmin Jahan Nupur b. 1979, Chittagong; lives and works in Dhaka Let Me Get You a Nice Cup of Tea, 2019–20 Antique furniture, antique tea set, embroidered textiles, tea, performance Commissioned for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist and Exhibit320, with support from the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem Performance is live from 7 to 12 February, 10am–1pm and 4–5:30pm Tea has impacted cultures and changed the course of world history by bringing people together and tearing them apart: from the Opium Wars and the American Revolution to the mass movement of workers as part of plantation economics; from the fostering of friendships to marriage proposals through the ritual of tea ceremonies. Yasmin Jahan Nupur has arranged a tea party through a performative process. She has harvested the tea at home and, through the act of sharing, brings participants together to think more closely about the origins of this everyday commodity. Nupur works with sketches, installations, and performances. Her work explores human relationships from various perspectives, reflecting her belief in democratic rights regardless of social position. She explores social discrepancies such as those of women and migrants in South Asia, hoping to support increased understanding between peoples of different backgrounds. Zainul Abedin b. 1914, Kishoreganj; d. 1976, Dhaka A suite of Untitled works from the Famine Sketches series, 1943 Ink on paper Courtesy of Rokeya Quader Untitled from Monpura’ 70, 1970 Ink on paper Courtesy of Anwar Hossain Manju Zainul Abedin is considered by many to be the founding father of modern art in Bangladesh. In response to the Great Famine of Bengal (1943) under the British rule of India, he made hundreds of sketches depicting starving victims, serving as a form of visual testimony. His sketches spoke to the atrocities experienced by victims under what was a man-made famine and fuelled the public’s will for independence. Throughout his artistic career, Abedin remained true to the representation of the struggles of those most vulnerable in society, notably the rural peasantry. He was actively involved in the Language Movement of 1952 and the Liberation War in 1971. Having witnessed the Bhola Cyclone devastation, he expressed solidarity through his scroll painting Monpura ’70, drawing parallels between the struggle of the victims of the cyclone and that of the people of Bangladesh. Abedin travelled extensively, depicting those suffering under oppression, often returning to his Famine sketches such as in his series on the people of Palestine. In addition to being one of the most important artists of his generation, Abedin was also an academic and bureaucrat who helped establish the first art college in Dhaka in 1947, after the partition of British India. He was given the title Shilpacharya (‘great teacher of arts’) for his contribution towards art education in Bangladesh. Abedin also established the Folk Art Museum and a folk village in Sonargaon in 1975. Zhou Tao b. 1976, Changsha; lives and works in Guangzhou Winter North Summer South (2, 3, 5, 17), 2019 Inkjet prints on paper Courtesy of the artist and Vitamin Creative Space. This project extends from a film produced with support from Samdani Art Foundation and Kadist and commissioned by Council Zhou Tao spent nearly two years in an eco-industrial park at the foot of the Kunlun Mountains creating these images that swiftly alternate between natural landscapes of sandstorms, dust clouds, and the changing seasons, and realistic portraits of humans and other species fighting for survival in a state of exception. Human agency is not only manifested in transforming the external world but can also be exercised by preserving an internal, poetic space. Co-commissioned by Times Museum and Council and supported by Samdani Art Foundation and Kadist, his latest work, North of the Mountain, was shot with an 8K-resolution camera that is able to capture shades of brightness and darkness beyond the capacity of the human eye. It is the artist’s radical attempt to ecologise the body of the filmmaker as well as filmmaking technologies in a place that is largely shut off from the gaze of the world outside. Zhou Tao predominantly works with video, producing plotless events in a documentary language with a core focus on the sense and sensation of time. His works connect disparate milieus, often on the threshold between the natural and the artificial as a metaphor for the spatial multiplicity of modernism, incomprehensible to the human mind.

  • My Oma

    ALL PROJECTS My Oma 8 December 2023 — 12 May 2024, Kunstinstituut Melly, Netherlands Sheelasha Rajdhandhari's remarkable piece, 'My great-great-grandmother’s shawl,' from the SAF collection is featured at Kunstinstituut Melly, Netherlands, as part of the 'My Oma' exhibition. 'My Oma' is curated by Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Rosa de Graaf, Jessy Koeiman, Julija Mockutė, and Vivian Ziherl. Its key producers are Shana Lewis, Pilar Mata Dupont, and Wendy van Slagmaat-Bos. Advisors to the research and planning process of "My Oma" include our Artistic Director, Diana Campbell, alongside Edward Gillman, Sun A Moon, and Manuela Moscoso. The exhibition has extended its time till September 1st, 2024. In the performative artwork titled 'My great-great-grandmother’s shawl,' Kathmandu-based artist Sheelasha Rajbhandari intricately weaves together the threads of change embedded in fabric and time. The three sets of photographs depict generations of women in the artist’s maternal family, tracing the evolving clothing preferences that mirror broader political and economic transformations within Nepal. The first image features the artist's great-great-grandmother, Purna Kumari Vaidhya, adorned in a Dambar Kumari Shawl, a 19th-century textile composed of a block-printed fabric sandwiched between fine muslin. The second and third portraits depict her grandmother, Chiniya Devi Bijukchhe, and the artist herself, both framed in the same posture and draped in a shawl. However, these two shawls are replicated by the artist, evident by the clothing tags. This visual narrative explores the growing influence of capitalism and ready-made items, prompting an interrogation on notions of authenticity and mimicry in the production of culturally significant items.

  • Independence Movements

    ALL PROJECTS Independence Movements ​ The shared energy fueling movements and building constellations of solidarities across time and diverse geographies defies shallow geopolitical definitions that carve up the world. Artists played a major role in spreading the deep yearning for independence in what is now Bangladesh, as well as elsewhere in the global majority world. Creative individuals with conviction were willing to stake their position and shift the course of history by galvanising people around their work which became the images, words, and songs to rally resistance and transform mere individuals into a collective force to be reckoned with. The artists in this movement chronicle the spirit of resistance and struggle for freedom, shifting from euphoria to disillusionment and back again. Independence is a spirit that needs to be kept alive and moved and nurtured across generations. Antonio Dias b. 1944, Campina Grande, Paraíba; d. 2018, Rio de Janeiro Trama , 1968/1977 Portfolio with 10 woodcuts on hand-made Nepali paper. Courtesy of Alexandre Roesler Do It Yourself: Freedom Territory, 1968/2020 adhesive strip and lettering on floor Courtesy of Collection Daros-Latinamerica and the Estate of Antonio Dias The Illustration of Art/Tool & Work , 1977 Red clay on hand-made Nepalese paper Courtesy of Geyze Diniz Collection Untitled , 1981 Handmade paper, cellulose with clay, iron oxide and soot. Courtesy of Samdani Art Foundation Demarcando Terretorios , 1982 Iron oxide, graphite, metalic pigments on Nepalese paper Working in the Furnace, 1986 Mixed media on nepalese paper The Last Houses of the man , 1987 Iron oxide and metalic pigment on Nepalese paper. Courtesy of Galeria Nara Roesler Research supported by Instituto InclusArtiz Antonio Dias’s many transnational experiences coloured his conceptual art practice. Supported by a Brazilian patron, he travelled to Nepal in 1976 ‘to buy paper for an edition.’ He soon discovered that the kind of paper he imagined could not be purchased in a store. Over an intense period of five months in 1976–77, living near the Tibetan border with Nepali artisans, Dias adapted their paper-making process by mixing in plant fibres and materials such as tea, earth, ash and curry. This presentation includes the installation Do it Yourself: Freedom Territory, whose words and motifs appear in Trama – the edition that brought him to Nepal. The Illustration of Art/Tool & Work, also from 1977, marks a shift in his practice. His process became less about the ‘illustration of art’ (a series from 1971–1978) and more about the physicality and the making of art. This work is a rare example where Dias and his Nepali collaborator’s hands both appear in the work, depicted as equals surrounded by the red Nepali clay they coexisted on. Dias returned to these papers to create works for at least a decade, layering further life experience into these remarkable collaborative surfaces that carry traces of experimentation, invention, and reinvention. Dias was one of the leading figures of 20th-century Brazilian art, working across various media to question the meaning of art and its systems. He left Brazil in 1966 and arrived in Paris in time to participate in the May 1968 protests. Because of his political involvement he was forced to move again; he settled in Milan, where he became the only Latin American member of the Arte Povera movement, and spent his career working across Brazil, Italy, and Germany. Bouchra Khalili b. 1975, Casablanca; lives and works in Berlin and Oslo The Constellations, Fig. 2, Fig. 4, Fig. 6, Fig. 8 , 2011 Four individual silkscreen prints Courtesy of the artist and mor Charpentier. Presented with support from ifa | Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen Bouchra Khalili translates the illegal transnational journeys of individuals into utopian midnight-blue maps, where solidarities between people make visible the waiting, setbacks, force, and compromise found in the condition of statelessness. In her words: ‘constellations are by essence reference points located in spaces where landmarks do not exist: the sky and the sea. As maps, they were used for centuries by sailors looking upward to locate themselves below… Constellations are also visual translations of narratives: many of them are based on mythology. Translating these forced illegal journeys into constellations of stars also aims to challenge normative geography in favour of a ‘human geography’” – based on micro-narratives and singular lives. The limits between the sky and the sea blur, eventually suggesting an alternative form of orientation: the landmarks are [no longer] boundaries as established by nation-states, but the path of singular lives, from where the world can be seen. As alternative maps of the world, The Constellations suggests a counter-geography, of singular gestures of resistance against arbitrary boundaries.” Working with film, video, installation, photography, and prints, Khalili’s practice articulates language, subjectivity, orality, and geographical explorations. With her work, Khalili investigates strategies and discourses of resistance as elaborated, developed, and narrated by individuals – often members of political minorities. Kapwani Kiwanga b. 1978, Hamilton, Canada; lives and works in Paris The Secretary’s Suite , 2016 Mixed Media Installation, UN Photo Courtesy Teddy Chen Courtesy of the artist and Tanja Wagner. Presented with support from the Canada Council for the Arts The Secretary’s Suite is an installation that investigates the complexities of gift economies. Presented within a viewing environment inspired by the 1961 office of the United Nations Secretary-General, Kapwani Kiwanga’s single-channel video examines the history and tradition of gifted items within the United Nations’ art collection. Countries that are members of the UN, including Bangladesh, often donate works of art and objects of cultural value which go on display in public spaces, the Secretary General’s office, or are stored away from private view. This work raises questions about how gifts can impact power dynamics in relationships and with differing cultural significance across the course of history. Kiwanga’s work traces the pervasive impact of power asymmetries by placing historical narratives in dialogue with contemporary realities, the archive, and tomorrow’s possibilities. Her work is research-driven, instigated by marginalised or forgotten histories, and articulated across a range of materials and media including sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance. Maryam Jafri b. 1972, Karachi; lives and works in Copenhagen and New York Independence Day 1934–1975, 2009–ongoing Sixty+ black and white archival inkjet prints Courtesy of the artist Maryam Jafri’s Independence Day 1934–1975 features over 60 archival photos culled from more than 30 archives of the first Independence Day ceremonies of various Asian, Middle Eastern, and African nations. The swearing-in of a new leadership, the signing of relevant documents, the VIP parade, the stadium salute, the first address to the new nation – all are supervised and orchestrated by the departing colonial power. The photographic material is strikingly similar despite disparate geographical and temporal origins, revealing a political model exported from Europe and in the process of being cloned throughout the world. Although a great deal of research has been done on both the colonial and the postcolonial eras, this project aims to introduce a third, surprisingly neglected element into the debate – that 24-hour twilight period in between, when a territory transforms into a nation-state. Jafri works with video, sculpture, photography, and performance, which act as a support for her research-based, conceptual practice. Her works address and question the cultural and visual representations of history, politics, and economics, such as the politics of food production and consumption, the highly coded performance rituals of nascent nation-states, and cultural memory and copyright law. Murtaja Baseer b. 1932, Dacca; Lives and works in Dhaka Untitled (Dinosaur Drawings) , 1971/2020 Archival Newspapers and Mural by young artists Courtesy of the artist How does a living artist share his historically important work with his people when the person keeping it for decades is not willing to sharea it publicly in exhibitions or publications? Murtaja Baseer created a powerful series of drawings between 1971 and 1972 in Dhaka and in Paris, depicting the Pakistani military as prehistoric figures towering with physical might over Bengali people. The work violently alludes to the wartime atrocities of famine and rape as well as the colonial efforts to subjugate the Bengali language. The magazine ‘The Express’ where the particular work was edited by Zahir Raihan. Zahir Raihan was a writer, novelist and filmmaker, most notable for his documentary ‘Genocide’ on the killing of citizens by the Pakistani Army on 14 December 1971. Baseer first began these dinosaur drawings for mass dissemination in East Pakistani newspapers. Now 88 years old, the artist is working with archival material and a younger generation of artists to reimagine this series of work as a mural for all to see at the entrance of DAS, emblazoning it in public memory. Murtaja Baseer is known for his ‘abstract-realist’ paintings reflecting his daily experience of Bengal. In 1967, he started ‘Wall’ series, his first step towards abstraction, which depicted the entropy and layers of textures and colours on the walls of old Dhaka, a reflection on the society under the dictatorship of Ayub Khan (1958–1969). He actively participated in the Language Movement of 1952 and pre-liberation war demonstrations. He was sent to jail throughout the East Pakistani period for his leftist political views and later left for Paris. He demonstrated his solidarity with the Liberation Movement through his work by changing the spelling of his name from Murtaza Bashir to Murtaja Baseer, adjusting the letters to suit the Bengali language. Baseer is also a writer, poet, numismatist, and acted as an academic at the University of Chittagong until 1998. Pratchaya Phinthong b. 1974, Ubon Ratchathani; lives and works in Bangkok Waiting for Hilsa , 2019 Photographs, Book, Election Ink, Gill Net Commissioned and Produced by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Samdani Art Foundation, BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY, and gb agency. Produced with additional support from BANGKOK CITYCITY GALLERY Installation activated by a discussion at 2pm on 8 February Stories of the Hilsa fish and its migration across salty and sweet waters have been inscribed in South Asian culture for centuries as they historically swam from the Bay of Bengal up the Padma river and into the Ganges. In 1975 the Farakka Barrage (dam) was completed on the Indian side of the Bangladesh–India border, disrupting this migration. Pratchaya Phinthong draws a mental map of this cross-border conflictual reality, combining photos taken at the Farakka Barrage, reconstructed images, books, and objects – taking into consideration geopolitics, science, spirituality, and human relationships. Using Bangladesh’s ‘national fish,’ the artist metaphorically examines nation-state powers, but also presents to us an example of water as a source of life and the ability of sensations such as taste to transcend ideas relating to national identity. Phinthong creates situations without predetermined forms that rely on an element of viewer participation with the aim of creating a shared experience. He addresses financial fluctuations, media alarmism, and the global labour market, commonly employing them as metaphors for human behaviour. Interested in creating dialogue, he often juxtaposes different social, economic, or geographical systems. Rashid Talukder b. 1939, Pargana; d. 2011, Dhaka. Arms drill by women members of the Chatro Union (students union), 1st March, 1971, 1971/2020 . Photograph, Inkjet Print Outraged artists hold placards bearing the Bangla letters Sha Dhi Na Ta (independence) protesting the postponement of the opening of the National Assembly by President Yahya Khan, Dhaka, 1st March, 1971, 1971/2020, Photograph, Inkjet Print A sea of people move towards Ramna Racecourse, now Suhrawardy Udyan, to attend the historic speech of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Dhaka, 7th March, 1971, 1971/2020 Photograph, Inkjet Print. Courtesy of Drik Picture Gallery Fed up with being oppressed linguistically, economically, and culturally under the rule of West Pakistan (1947–1971), masses of people in what is now Bangladesh rallied in support of an independent sovereign country. People coming from all walks of life engaged in protests finally leading to the liberation war. This bloody war was catalysed when West Pakistan refused to hand over power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971, despite his having received the majority of the democratic votes in the general election of Pakistan. Rashid Talukder dedicated himself to capturing the mass revolution of the East Pakistani people and their fight to maintain freedom as a newly independent nation. His images of empowered female activists, artists (including Murtaja Baseer whose drawings of resistance and independence are installed near this work) and students who participated in the making of Bangladesh greet visitors at the entrance of DAS, grounding us in the history of public assembly in Bangladesh that makes the Summit possible. Rashid Talukder was a photojournalist whose images represent a significant contribution to the collective memory of Bangladesh. Among many other defining events in the history of the nation, he documented the struggles of East Pakistan in the 1960s that led to the liberation war and the formation of Bangladesh. His photographs immortalise mass uprisings, resistance movements, and the participants, of whom many were killed by the Pakistani army. Talukder also photographed artists, highlighting their role in the liberation. As a photojournalist, he worked at the Daily Sangbad and The Daily Ittefaq successively, reaching wide audiences. Dedicated to expanding the field of photojournalism in Bangladesh, he founded the Bangladesh Photo Journalists’ Association in 1972. S. M. Sultan b. 1923, Narail; d. 1994, Jessore First Plantation sketch , c. 1976 Ink on brown paper Courtesy of the collection of Farooq Sobhan While South Asian art history describes him as a landscape painter, S.M. Sultan is remembered in Bangladesh for his energetic paintings of strong farmers made after 1975. These are primarily large-scale paintings made with natural pigments on unprimed jute canvases, celebrating the strength of Bengali peasants, both male and female, in their struggle against colonial and ecological disasters. Famine had been plaguing the country across generations from the era of the British Raj until just the year before Sultan first painted these icons of physical might. In this context, his depiction of the weak and downtrodden as invincible forces can be seen as subversive. In this sketch for the First Plantation, Sultan created a mythical environment where a larger-than-life figure demonstrates power, yet maintains a humble and protective gesture cherishing a single seed, a metaphor for all of humanity. The nude angels in the background speak to the plurality and liberalism found within the Bangladeshi art community who recognizes this work as one of the country’s most iconic contributions to Bangladeshi art history. After travelling extensively as a celebrated artist both internationally and within South Asia, Sultan retreated from urban life, moving to his home village of Narail, where he founded the Shishu Shwarga art school. His devotion to rural art education has had a lasting legacy, inspiring many initiatives to promote personal growth outside of urban centres through art. Sultan’s activities highlight the importance of rural culture in the collective identity of Bangladesh. Tuan Andrew Nguyen b. 1976, Sai Gon; lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City Solidarities Between the Reincarnated , 2019 Digital pigment print on Hahnemuhle paper and graphite on paper, two-channel video Courtesy of the artist and James Cohan Gallery Solidarities Between the Reincarnated interrogates the place of the archive document in a personal re-appropriation of history at the crossroads between echoes that persist amidst institutional amnesia and gaps in transmission within collective memory. At its core, this project considers the movement of people through (post-)colonial violence and the obscuring of its legacy in the context of France’s use of colonial troops in global and colonial conflicts and of communities born from it. Tuan Andrew Nguyen offers imagination and creation as ways in which to connect the gaps and fulfil a desire for connection through imagined lines of solidarity whose absence in the historical canon are brought to clash against expanded possibilities for the means by which we can remember. Tuan Andrew Nguyen’s practice explores strategies of political resistance enacted through counter-memory and post-memory. Extracting and re-working narratives via history and supernaturalisms is an essential part of Nguyen’s video works and sculptures where fact and fiction are both held accountable. He initiated The Propeller Group (f. 2006), a platform for collectivity that situates themselves between an art collective and an advertising company. Dr. Zahia Rahmani b. 1962, Les Attouchs; lives and works in Paris and Heilles Seismography of Struggles – Towards a Global History of Critical and Cultural Journals , 2017 Video and sound installation, 59 min Courtesy of INHA, Paris Seismography of Struggle is an inventory of non-European critical and cultural journals, including those from the African, Indian, Caribbean, Asian, and South American diaspora, produced in the wake of the revolutionary movements of the end of the 18th century up to the watershed year of 1989. The sound and visual work included here reflects populations who have experienced colonialism, practices of slavery, Apartheid, and genocide. The struggle against slavery is at the root of many critical and cultural journals. Colonialism impacted the social and cultural cohesion of a number of communities and was also fought against in both writing and gesture by constantly renewing the modalities of political action. The oldest material evidence of this eminently modern exercise is L’Abeille Haytienne, a critical journal that was founded on the island of Haiti in 1817. The journal expresses the constant desire for emancipation. Christopher Columbus landed in Haiti in December 1492 and named it Hispaniola. The island later became a French territory and was renamed Dominica and, over time, more than 400,000 slaves live there and were subjected to France’s ferocious rule. C.L.R. James noted that, in 1789, this territory alone accounted for more than two-thirds of French foreign trade. In 1804, the revolt of subjugated populations gave rise to the birth of a small independent state of Haiti. Even though this cause was won, the struggles continued. For over two centuries, print media has been a space that has accommodated varied experiences. Born out of a sense of urgency in response to colonialism, journals have aligned with a critical, political, aesthetic, poetic, and literary ambitions and helped sustain graphical and scriptural creativity. They have appeared with regularity in the struggles that women and men have waged for their emancipation. Consisting of formal singularities and political objectives that support human communities and their aspirations, the journal, this fragile object, often pulled together difficult material that was motivated by noble causes and the determination of committed authors. The journal reveals a rare aesthetic power. In this all-digital era, we must re-establish and qualify its formal, aesthetic, and political function on a global scale. Zahia Rahmani is one of France’s leading art historians and writers of fiction, memoirs, and cultural criticism. Rahmani curated Made in Algeria, genealogy of a territory (2016), dedicated to the role of cartography in the colonial expansion. Rahmani founded the Global Art Prospective (f. 2015), a collective of young researchers and actors within the art scene who are specialists in non-European territorial and cultural spaces.

  • Geological Movements

    ALL PROJECTS Geological Movements ​ We may think of ‘land’ as fixed but it is constantly shifting: below us through erosion, volcanic eruptions, and earthquakes; swirling above us as dust clouds. The earliest signs of life, the impetus of cellular movement, as well as aeons of extinction are inscribed in stone and fossils. Fossil fuels, created from the remains of life from the deep geological past, power much of our way of life and threaten our collective future through the violent process of extracting and burning them. Geological and political ruptures often overlap, and the artists in this movement excavate metaphors to consider our past, present, and future on this planet beyond human-bound paradigms. Their works challenge us to find commonalities and to emerge from this sediment to heal, imagine, design, and build new forms of togetherness. What will coalesce and fossilise our presence on this planet for lifetimes to come? Adrián Villar Rojas b. 1980, Argentina; lives and works nomadically New Mutants, 2017–2020 Moroccan marble floor tiles encrusted with Devonian period micro Ammonite and Goniatites fossils; blue chroma key paint; spices (turmeric, chili powder, garam masala powder); plant-based pigments (indigo, sindoor, alta), gouache; sand; potatoes and coal, on aggregate rammed earth walls Commissioned and produced by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Samdani Art Foundation, Marian Goodman Gallery, and kurimanzutto Fragments of this installation will be permanently on display at Srihatta, the Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park in Sylhet in a dedicated pavilion designed by the artist. Realised with additional support from kurimanzutto and Marian Goodman Gallery New Mutants is a new immersive installation by Adrián Villar Rojas where visitors enter DAS by walking over a marble floor encrusted with 400-million-year-old ammonite and orthoceras fossils. These now-extinct species of undersea creatures thrived for 300 million years, swimming across the super-ocean Panthalassa and witnessing the creation and breakup of the single continent Pangaea. A painting of a burned-out fireplace emerges from the rammed-earth walls that rise from the fossil floor, tracing the seismic shift that occurred in the evolution of humanity and our planet when we learned to control fire, invented agriculture, and began to settle and build civilisations. This work serves as a metaphor to think outside of human-bound time, and to consider common ground on which to come together. Villar Rojas creates site-specific installations using both organic and inorganic materials that undergo change over time. Tied to their exhibiting context, they generate irreproducible experiences relying on a ‘parasite-host’ relation. His team-based projects that extend over open-ended periods allow him to question the aftermath of the normalised production of art in the Capitalocene era. Elena Damiani b. 1979, Lima; lives and works in Lima As the dust settles, 2019–2020 Watercolour on handmade Lokta Barbour grey paper. Commissioned for DAS 2020 Courtesy of the artist and Revolver Gallery ‘There is a strange sympathy between the atmospheric particles that float through the sky and the human beings who migrate across the ground and then across the sea. Each body sets the other into motion – a pattern of movement and countermovement.’ Adrian Lahoud Elena Damiani has created a collage of watercolour renditions of storming dust particles in the atmosphere as captured by NASA. Several hundred million tonnes of dust unsettle and travel through the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans from deserts to the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. We imagine land to be static, but deforestation, desertification, and climate-change-related storms distribute dust across vast distances in our planet’s atmosphere. The handmade Nepalese paper beneath the layers of paint making up this work is a surface that could be read as stone tiles, an aerial view of a desert, or even a microscopic view of human skin. Damiani creates installations, objects, and works on paper that focus on the politics of space and memory. She portrays landscapes and geological processes to reinterpret natural stages and their generative processes. Her work draws inspiration from collage techniques and historical science books, while the stone and metal in her sculptures recall the environments she studies and refracts. Jonathas de Andrade b. 1982, Maceió; lives and works in Recife Pacifico, 2010 Super8 transferred in HD, 12 min Courtesy of the artist and Vermelho Through the process of animating a styrofoam board model with maps and paper, Jonathas de Andrade proposes a fictional geological solution for the political turmoil and violence that normally accompanies changes of borders. A massive earthquake erupts over the Andes, detaching Chile from the South American continent. As a consequence, the sea returns to Bolivia, restoring its lost coastline, Argentina gains coasts with both the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans, and Chile becomes a floating island adrift in the seas. The aesthetic approach of the film allows the artist to touch upon topics such as the notion of truth as an ideological construction and the fabrication of mass commotion/emotion as political artifice. De Andrade works predominantly with installations, videos, and photo-research. Addressing those overlooked in the dominant cultural narrative of Brazil, the artist ponders on the relationships between different social milieus. In collaboration with labourers, indigenous tribes, the disabled, and others, de Andrade commonly points out the inequality stemming from the discourses of colonialism and neo-imperialism. The artist co-founded the artistic collective A Casa como Convém in 2007. Karan Shrestha b. 1985, Kathmandu; lives and works between Kathmandu and Mumbai in these folds, 2019 Ink on paper, three-channel HD video Commissioned for DAS 2020 Courtesy of the artist Within Nepal’s contained geography, the landscape presents possibilities for adversity to spring from any fissure: be it a decade of revolutionary upheaval, political instability, natural disasters, economic ruptures, repressed social edifices, or perpetual state violence. Through the installation of a three-channel video and an ink drawing, in these folds addresses the resulting precariousness that has characterised Nepal’s recent past. Incorporating documentary and fiction, Karan Shreshta questions the rhetoric of progress prescribed for paving the way forward and considers how transcendental practices that have endured over time are attempts at grappling with the everyday. Shrestha’s works overlay encounters in physical landscapes on mental maps of people and spaces he comes across so as to examine and restructure notions of the present. His practice – incorporating drawings, sculpture, photography, text, film, and video – seeks to blur the oppositions that build and define our individual and collective identities. Matías Duville b. 1974, Buenos Aires; lives and works in Buenos Aires Untitled, 2019 Sanguine on paper My red way, 2019 Sanguine on paper Levitating in red, 2019 Sanguine on paper, sandpaper Courtesy of the artist and Barro Gallery Matías Duville’s earthy mud and iron-oxide-infused sanguine drawings call to mind landscapes in transition from natural disasters and also from human interference from the extraction and clearing processes needed for infrastructure development. Similar to these methods, Duville’s drawings pulse with expressive brutality, trying to represent what the end of the world might look like both in a geographical and psychological sense. These works are inspired by the mental landscapes that are created inside our heads when we look directly at the sun and close our eyes to recover from its blinding light. The artist takes us along on his journey deep into the mind, trying to connect us with the idea of a universe out of control. Duville works with objects, videos, and installations, although he predominantly employs drawing. His works evoke scenes of desolation with rarified, timeless atmospheres like those that precede a natural disaster: hurricanes, tsunamis, or situations of abandonment in the forest that act as a dreamlike vision of a wandering explorer, like a mental landscape. Omer Wasim b. 1988, Karachi; lives and works in Karachi In the Heart of Mountains, 2019 Charcoal on canvas, lacquer, wooden armatures Commissioned for DAS 2020 Courtesy of the artist In the Heart of Mountains situates us amidst Omer Wasim’s journey in the mountains of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, a contested terrain that he scaled with queer friends and friendships. The work, as well as his action, denounces romantic visions and imaginaries of the area perpetuated by the state, and instead relies on charcoal to make visible the mountains as witnesses to state violence, colonial and neo-colonial rule, and as sites where many death-worlds arise. These mountains anticipate their own demise, foreshadowing capital interests in the region that are in diametric opposition to nature, ecology, and people. Queer bodies and community enable this mode of inquiry, becoming, in the process, insurgents that counter state-sponsored redaction and violence. While it also stands alone as an installation, the work also becomes an environment for new readings into the future. Wasim is an intermedia artist whose practice queers space, subverting the frames of development and progress that shape human relationships to the city and nature. His work bears witness to the relentless erasure, violence, destruction of our times by staying with queer bodies as they hold space and enact desire. Otobong Nkanga b. 1974, Kano; lives and works in Antwerp Landversation, 2020 Site-specific installation and conversations from Dhaka Commissioned and produced by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2020. Courtesy of the artist, Samdani Art Foundation, and Mendes Wood DM. Realised with additional support from Unilever Bangladesh. Project coordinator Helena Ramos Land extends beyond mere soil, territories, and earth. It relates to our connectivity and conflicts in relation to the spaces we live in and how humans try to find solutions through simple gestures of innovation and repair. As relationships with nature and people become affected, how can we find a platform to share, learn, exchange and heal? A series of tables forming a circular structure serve as the basis for an exchange between visitors and a group of people who all have close – professional, caring, vital – relationships with the earth. Otobong Nkanga weaves together strands of landversations realised in Beirut, Shanghai, and São Paulo in this project’s newest iteration in Dhaka, and her collaborators have included geologists, housing and land rights activists, farmers, and many others who transform the land itself into other realities. What is ordinarily constructed through their contact with land now forms the foundation for new situations of exchange and transmission, activating interpersonal networks that come together in DAS with the power to move the world outside the exhibition. Nkanga’s drawings, installations, photographs, sculptures and performances examine the social and topographical relationship to our everyday environment. By exploring the notion of land as a place of non-belonging, Nkanga provides an alternative meaning to the social ideas of identity. Paradoxically, she brings to light the memories and historical impacts provoked by humans and nature. Raphael Hefti b. 1978, Biel; lives and works in Zurich Quick Fix Remix, 2015/2020 Sculptures created from performance with thermite powder and sand Courtesy of the artist. Realised with additional support from Pro Helvetia Raphael Hefti uses the language of material to communicate a fascination with the behaviour of liquid metals, a material history which is part of the epic story of human civilisation across vast geographies. This performance, a spectacle between blunder and precision, is a conversation with the world of heavy industries and iron casting. The artist misappropriates thermite welding processes typically used to repair high-speed train tracks, transforming liquid steel through a blazing landscape of incisions that leaves behind a bed of solidified metal debris. Just as volcanic eruptions make visible the hidden energy properties of the molten rock and liquid metal moving deep within the earth, Hefti’s ‘artistic alchemy’ makes visible the hidden industrial practices and processes that form the machine-made landscapes powering our way of life. Working across sculpture, installation, painting, photography, and performance, Raphael Hefti explores how humans transform materials in the everyday urban landscape by pushing and testing material limits, while removing these materials from utilitarian obligations. He often works with teams of industry technicians to modify and misapply routine procedures and construction methods to open up new possibilities and unexpected beauty through guided accidents that he documents in his work.

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