2018.02.02 Fri, by

[Press Release]


2 – 10 FEBRUARY 2018

Artist list and further programme details released

15 November 2017

Produced and primarily funded by the Samdani Art Foundation, the 4th edition of the Dhaka Art Summit will take place from 2-10 February in a public-private partnership with the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, the country’s National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts, with the support of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Ministry of Information of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and in association with the Bangladesh National Museum.

Over 300 artists are featured in 10 curated exhibitions led by Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt (Artistic Director, Samdani Art Foundation) who is joined by guest curators. Over 120 speakers will participate in 16 panel discussions and 2 symposiums that strive to ground future developments of art in South Asia within the region’s rich, yet lesser-known, past. The Summit is free to the public and ticketless. New for the 2018 edition, the programme looks at Bangladesh in relation to both South and Southeast Asia, moving away from an lndo-centric stance and giving an unprecedented focus on lesser-known art histories of Sri Lanka and cultures flattened out by nation-building activities in the region, an in-depth examination of exhibition histories in South Asia, and —for the first time — an engagement with Iran and Turkey. It also hosts the first ever Education Pavilion designed by the winner of the inaugural Samdani Architecture Award, Maksudul Karim.

With the aim of recalibrating how we think about art and architecture, it features interdisciplinary workshops with participants such as Raqs Media Collective, Superflex, Dayanita Singh, among others, and institutional collaborations with leading forces in arts education including Stadelschule, Open School East, TBA21-Academy, Merce Cunningham Trust, FMNW Academy of Art and Design and Harvard, amongst others.

Seher Shah and Randhir Singh, Studies in Form, Dhaka University Library (#1), commissioned by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2018, Courtesy of the artists, Samdani Art Foundation, and Nature Morte.

Seher Shah and Randhir Singh, Studies in Form, Dhaka University Library (#1), commissioned by Samdani Art Foundation for DAS 2018, Courtesy of the artists, Samdani Art Foundation, and Nature Mort

One third of the works in the Summit are newly created for the exhibition including: Rasheed Araeen’s bamboo sculpture, “Rite/Right of Passage” (2017), that ads as a gateway into the Summit and a portal into the borderless thinking it promotes; Sheela Gowda’s installation made from traces of Bangladeshi material culture which investigates the country’s craft and vernacular industries; Bangladeshi artist Zihan Karim’s 3D film about the building that housed the first rock band in Bengal; Burmese artist Htein Lin’s monumental iron and charcoal tree alluding to the destruction of mangrove forests across Burma and Bangladesh; Sri Lankan artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s colossal ceramic sculptures that celebrate the fluidity of culture across religions, co-commissioned by Artspace Sydney; Randhir Singh and Seher Shah’s cyanotype prints exploring architectural scale and sculptural intent through modernist architecture from Japan, India, England, and Bangladesh; and Bangladeshi artist Reetu Sattar’s performance, co-commissioned by the Liverpool Biennial, that conjures sonic memories of musical traditions of South Asia in an act of resistance, to name a few.

Expanding on the success of past years’ iterations, the Summit will now extend its duration to nine days featuring both an Opening Celebration Weekend (February 2-4) and a Closing Scholars’ Weekend (February 8-10). The opening weekend will include the announcement of the Samdani Art Award winner, presented by Director of Tate and second time Dhaka Art Summit participant, Dr. Maria Balshaw (who also co-curates Kashmiri artist Raqib Shaw’s first major presentation in South Asia with Diana Campbell Betancourt). Under the curatorial direction of Simon Castets (Director, Swiss Institute, New York), the shortlisted artists’ work for the Samdani Art Award-Bangladesh’s premier art award-will be juried by artists Sheela Gowda, Runa Islam, Subodh Gupta and Mona Hatoum, and chaired by Aaron Cezar (Director, Delfina Foundation).

Zihan Karim, Various Way of Departure, video still, 2017, Courtesy of the artist

Zihan Karim, Various Way of Departure, video still, 2017, Courtesy of the artist

Throughout the week, a new film and performance program curated by Vali Mahlouji and the Archaeology of the Final Decade: below the levels where differences appear will draw upon the music, theatre, dance and politics that informed the utopian aspirations and contradictions of the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of Arts (1966-67), with contributions by Massan Khan, Goshka Macuga, Silas Riener, Reetu Sattar, and Bengali musicians. On occasion of the Summit, the Fiorucci Art Trust, in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory and Samdani Art Foundation, will stage the highly anticipated 8th edition of Volcano Extravaganza, the Trust’s yearly festival of contemporary art. Titled Total Anastrophes, the event will be held for the first time off-site from Stromboli, and transform the auditorium of the Academy into the inner echo chamber of an active volcano, curated by Milovan Farronato with 2018 Artistic Leader Runa Islam. Beth Citron and Diana Campbell Betancourt have convened a new series of illustrated lectures by artists Matti Braun, The Otolith Group, Lucy Raven, and Amie Siegel that will contemplate ancient and modern cultural achievements in India as they intersect pan-Asian and global histories. The closing weekend, in addition to featuring a key-note lecture by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, will feature two concentrated symposiums, the first devoted to the work and legacy of Colombo-born art historian Ananda Kentish Coomaraswamy, organised by Shabbir Mussain Mustafa (Senior Curator, National Gallery of Singapore).

The second, titled Displays of Internationalism: Asia Interfacing With The World Through Exhibitions, 1947-1989, organised by Amara Antilla (Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), will analyse the history of Asian art exhibitions. A closing panel, held in collaboration with The Exhibitionist, will bring together critics from across South Asia to consider and chronicle the last five years of biennales and other recurring exhibitions within the region. Spanning the entirety of the Summit, the Critical Writing Ensembles return for the 2nd time with Sovereign Words: Facing the Tempest of Global Art History, a project conceived by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, that brings together indigenous peers from four continents to address some of the burning questions driving indigenous writing in the arts today, through commissioned texts and debates, concluding with a publication and furthering the Summit’s mission to support discussions about the diversity of cultures found in the region.


Joining Chief Curator Betancourt, the Guest Curators for DAS 2018 are Amara Antilla (Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), Simon Castets (Director, Swiss Institute, New York), Beth Citron (Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Rubin Museum), Cosmin Costinas (Director, Para/Site, Hong Kong), Milovan Farronato (Director, Fiorucci Art Trust), Katya Garcia-Anton (Director and Curator, Office for Contemporary Art Norway), Vali Mahlouji (Founder, Archaeology of the Final Decade), Mohammed Muniruzzaman (Director, National Art Gallery, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy), Shabbir Mussain Mustafa (Senior Curator, National Gallery of Singapore), Sharmini Pereira (Founder and Director, Rakng Leaves), and Devika Singh (Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge) assisted by Samdani Art Foundation Assistant Curator Ruxmini Reckvana Q Choudhury and Assistant to the Artistic Director Abhijan Gupta. Bearing Points benefits from the curatorial collaboration of Dr. Maria Balshaw (Director, Tate) for Raqib Shaw’s presentation as part of the New North New South network, and Alexie Glass-Kantor (Executive Director, Artspace, Sydney) and Michelle Newton (Deputy Director, Artspace, Sydney) for Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s commission. In order to enhance the Summit’s mission to engage with wider geographies, many projects and exhibitions will travel around the world after DAS 2018. A beast, a god, and a line curated by Cosmin Costinas will travel to MoMA Warsaw in Poland in April 2018, TS1 in Yangon, and to Para Site in late 2018 and Volcano extravaganza will travel back to its native Stromboli to be staged with a new configuration in the summer of 2018. Other DAS projects will tour the world over the next two years, further information to be announced in the future. The Summit regularly collaborates with leading like-minded private foundations and independent public bodies, in addition to arts councils, including the Sharjah Art Foundation, Phileas, TBA21-Academy. In Between Art film, the Fiorucci Arts Trust, Art Jameel, and Alserkal Avenue, among others.