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‘I was colourblind’: An artist’s experience of transition

  • Published at 08:33 pm March 26th, 2019
Poster of 'I was colourblind'

In his latest solo exhibition, artist Zaid Islam draws parallel between the changes in his personal life and the ones he witnessed in a foreign land

When Bangladeshi artist Zaid Islam decided to move to the US for studies, it was at a time when the country itself was going through a transition. 

He found subtle similarities between a nation’s transition and the changes in his personal life. 

That experience is the focus of his work of art currently being showcased at the New York-based artist’s latest solo exhibition, “I was colourblind,” at Kala Kendra in Mohammadpur, Dhaka.

The exhibition, curated by Wakilur Rahman, was inaugurated on March 16.  This is Zaid’s fourth solo exhibition in Dhaka.

In a statement, Zaid explained what he experienced when he first arrived in the US. 

“When I travelled to New York in 2016, many things in my life were in transition: family, education, career, and life choices. I realized over time that my transitions were in parallel to the dramatic shifts happening on a national scale. After November 8 of the same year, the whole of America was trying to cope with something drastic, something unimaginable. 

“There was a revival of fascist, misogynistic, homophobic, Islamophobic, racist, colonial and neocolonial white supremacist brutality. Some would say it never went away, but suddenly the masks and gloves were off.  

“In face of all this, I observed resistance. I became aware of the many different identities I carry. I am Muslim. I am brown. I am an immigrant,” he said in the statement.

Zaid studied masters in fine arts (MFA) at the Queens College in the City University of New York. 

As an artist, Zaid explores the role of documentation in social practice art. His work includes direct public interventions like “Bus-e Genjam” in collaboration with street theatre group Pothonatoker Dol, "One Billion Rising Photo Booth” at Shahbagh, graffiti and sticker projects, and shows at public spaces, such as Chhobir Haat. 

Prior to getting his MFA from Queens College, Zaid attended Pathshala South Asian Media Institute. He also worked as a senior staff photojournalist at a national daily newspaper in Bangladesh for many years.

“I was colourblind” is open for all between 4:30pm to 8pm until Friday.

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