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5 questions with Istela

  • Published at 06:23 pm November 8th, 2018
WT_Nov 8, 2018
Photo: Courtesy

Kazi Istela Imam sat down with Weekend Tribune for a rapid-fire Q/A round ahead of her young adults panel “Dirty Laundry” taking place at noon tomorrow at DLF.

Artist, designer, actor…. Kazi Istela Imam wears many hats atop her quirky, blue-haired head, and she’s managed to dance to the beat of her own drum, merging her love of art and music into designs with a keen social awareness.Ahead of her young adults panel “Dirty Laundry” taking place at noon tomorrow, she sat down with Weekend Tribune for a rapid-fire Q/A round.

How was the last DLF for you? 

As far as I remember, it was pretty great. I recall artist Sandro Kopp’s panel quite clearly and being mesmerized by his process. 

Tell us a little about your most recent ventures/activities

This year, my partner and I collaborated with a tech company called Selise to tackle more design projects around the world. We were also able to roll out two fun products, one that was a t-shirt with an orna drawn on it which was a sarcastic approach to address society’s need for girls to be wrapped in their ornas, especially outdoors. The other was the Dhaka Jam print/bags that was a visual pun of Dhaka traffic trapped in a jam jar that came with a quirky recipe too. I was also lucky to host a series of workshops for middle schoolers to help practice empathy fusing art and mental wellness issues.

What can we expect from Istela at DLF this year? 

This year…*drum roll*… I am very excited to collaborate with my good friends to illustrate a book called Quarks and Socks: The Interdimensional Letters of Wasi Babu and Dr. Arash. I will also be discussing matters of the mind and creative process at the panel ‘Dirty Laundry’ with writers Katerina Don, Amit Ashraf and Therapist Nassim Jan Sajid. Besides this, volume two of The Herstories series is launching along with an audiobook app and you can find one of my illustrations of singer, Ferdousi Rahman there.

Would you care to comment on the art scene in Dhaka right now?

I relate to the underground art scene of Dhaka more which is booming at the moment but I would like to work on giving them more of a platform to perform and exhibit with movements like the Milkshake Collective and InvisiBellas. One thing I would like to see more around the city though, is street art. The city right now is flooded with blown out posters of unknown faces and I visualize a Dhaka that can exhibit more art and murals that help us claim ownership of public spaces. 

A lot of your work is unabashedly feminist; how has it been received? 

So far it’s always been well received, specially the Orna Tee which addressed a problem much bigger about our patriarchy, and the victim shaming attitudes of harassers, while at the same time it was able to make people that support the cause, laugh. 

India's seeing its #MeToo movement gain traction, and Bangladesh seems poised to join in. What is the role of art in fighting the good fight?

All forms of art have the power to raise voices, give voice to the voiceless. In terms of crisis, I have noticed people become more and more creative to draw attention to the issues at hand and we must use our strengths in any field we are in to continuously shed light on what we feel passionately about.