Class acts at the DAS
Sabah Rahman Arts & Culture

Shifting Sands, Sifting Hands: Performance artists take the stage


For the uninitiated, performance art can seem like a strange experience, and that is often the goal. An artist might venture into performance art as a way to explore different forms of expression, to reach out to people, and tread into a completely new territory, using their bodies as a crucial instrument to get their particular message across.

Performance art is a non-traditional artform that combines visual art with dramatic performance, poetry, music, dance, or painting. Performance may be either scripted or unscripted, random or carefully orchestrated, spontaneous or otherwise carefully planned, with or without audience participation.

“Shifting Sands, Sifting Hands,” curated by Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore, and Jana Prepeluh, is a continuously running exhibition at the Performance Pavilion of the Dhaka Art Summit. It relates to the idea of everything being in a state of becoming or flux, especially the human body, where movement and change are with us from the moment of birth to death. This exhibition aims to re-approach the current critiques surrounding performance art within both the institution and in an object orientated art world.

Stop by and engage all five senses at the pavillion, which will be open to all everyday, Feb 5-8, from 10am-9pm, at the Dhaka Art Summit on the 2nd floor of the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. 

Ali Asgar (Dhaka, Bangladesh), Inside the Zone, Outside your Conscience

Ali will create an interactive “non-gender biased area /gender free zone” wherein audiences can transform the artist’s appearance using the installed gender-objectified props or by sending him instant text messages with performance recommendations. His objective is to help people understand their assumptions of gender stereotyping based on social codes of dress and attire.

Sanad Kumar Biswas (Dhaka, Bangladesh), me & ME

Encased in a plastic bag, Biswas will use his own breath to survive. Using the translucent walls of the ballooned bag as a surface, he will make notations and records using a marker to write/draw his visceral experience of being/existing in the bag. “This is an un-deciphered endless poem ... made of taste, smell, touch, and feelings,” said Sanad. “I am seeking another me, who is gradually metamorphosing in endless ways.” 

Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty (Dhaka, Bangladesh), Dialogue Negotiation

In the persona of a sportsman, Chisty will play tennis with his reflection in the mirror. He uses the sport and the idea of playing with his own reflection as a metaphor for the alienation postmodern technologies have created. “Technology cannot exist without the biological body, why then are we competing with our virtual body?”


Devgun will use matchsticks to construct words and words to construct sentences, which will snake through the various spaces of the Dhaka Art Summit. “I will devise a note on ‘time’… to understand time/duration/memories with certain situations and incidents in my life,” Devgun says. Her work has consistently questioned the role imposed on women in a predominantly patriarchal world. 

Sajan Mani (Kochi, India), #MakeinIndia 

Mani will perform an “act of resistance through a black Dalit body to draw attention to historical and current injustice.” He will carry the bodies of Dalit grandfathers who were used as cows/beasts of burden in the fields and killed. The performance is part of a larger body of work where Mani is looking at the cow and its relationship to food, religion, and politics.

Yasmin Jahan Nupur (Dhaka, Bangladesh), Another Crazy Thing I can Do; Dance!

Nupur will move in “dance,” ie in non-dance motions and movements imitating dance. In doing so, she will deal with the body, mind, and the various emotional states that she will pass through during her performance. Nupur says the focus of her work is “the joy of creating, and not being afraid of creating, the willingness to do something, having an idea, and doing it, without being overly analytical.”

Venuri Perera (Colombo, Sri Lanka), Entry/No Entry 1.2

Different types of passports have varying degrees of power. “The inequality and undignified processes and rituals many have to face before and during entering another country are addressed in this durational performance installation consisting of a series of short, individual, intimate encounters,” says Venuri, a dancer known for challenging political and social issues. 

Atish Saha (Dhaka, Bangladesh), Memories of my Mother’s Womb

Atish will spend 53 hours confined to an 8x8ft box. For the entire duration, “I will wait and wait in different corners of the box; I will be sitting, lying, staring at the ceiling” said Saha, a maker of images, working between photography and performance. 


Dhaka Tribune is a media partner of the Dhaka Art Summit. 

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