Singular experiences
Saqib Sarker Arts & Culture

Only at Dhaka Art Summit: Custom installations and performances offer viewers one-of-a-kind experiences

  • In Ipso Facto, Burmese artists Tun Win Aung & Wah Nu (Myanmar) take the viewers for a walk through a canvas forest, for an eerie reminder that this experience might soon cease to exist thanks to climate change.  
  • Haroon Mirza’s The National Apavilion of Then and Now features a triangular room lined with black foam pyramids. Light and sound seem to disappear. Following a period of total darkness, a halo of of white LED lights get progressively brighter, along with a buzzing sound, until both abruptly stop.  
  • Mustafa Zaman’s Lost Memory Eternalised is an unauthorised retelling of the past that provides a myriad of lenses to the viewer through which to view history or historical figures. 

Seventeen solo projects have been specially commissioned for the Dhaka Art Summit.  

The works are mostly new and they break away from the traditional understanding of rationality. Curator Diana Betancourt thinks that “curating exhibitions about identity is a minefield,” but it is nevertheless very important to explore the questions and trying to find out “how individuals see their place in the world.”

These artists come from diverse backgrounds. Among them, four are from Bangladesh, four are from Indian, three from the UK, two from Myanmar, two from the US, one from Singapore, and one from Pakistan. 

Lynda Benglis whose work has sold for $1M, is South Asian by association, as she is an American artist who spent decades living in India. 

The 17 projects make use of different mediums to present ideas and thoughts. Tino Sehgal presents Ann Lee, developed from a Japanese manga video game character, who is brought to life, and must relate with the real world. Prabhavathi Meppayil confronts the viewers with a sculptural work that plays off of the architecture of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy itself.

 Many of these works make quite profound and radical statements, which may not be kindly received if presented plainly without the artistic interpretation of reality, such as Shumon Ahmed’s critique on torture. 

What these look like is difficult to describe in words. They need to be experienced in person. 

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