Headed to the Dhaka Art Summit and not sure where to begin? Meenakshi Thirukode, writer and curatorial director at Exhibit 320, picks the 5 stops you should begin with:
1) The Film Programme, curated by Shanay Jhaveri, which explores themes of belonging, displacement, exile and other conditions created by colonialism and postcolonialism. Thirukode’s most excited about late documentary filmmaker Mani Kaul’s 'Before My Eyes' (1989) documents the Kashmir Valley before it was sullied by violence, the debut film of contemporary art giant Akbar Padamsee’s 'Events in a Cloud Chamber' (1973), a film that was supposed to have been lost and is now recreated by Miss Lovely director Ashim Ahluwalia. She says films from Argentina, Austria and Vietnam look the most promising including 'Vadi Samvadi' (1981), based on iconic experimental filmmaker Claudio Caldini’s connection with Indian music and the sci-fi meditation 'Sao Hoa Noi Day Gieng' (Mars in the Well) by Freddy Nadolny Poustochkine and Truong Minh Quy from Vietnam.
2) Mustafa Zaman. “His work looks at images as a palimsest," says Thirukode. "This series, 'Lost Memory Eternalized', is a retro log of the past revealed by readjusting the lens – the use of honey and ants over found images is a way to talk of timelessness and transcendence."
3) Haroon Mirza. “The London-based Pakistani artist’s immersive installation has been much-awaited,” says Thirukode. Mirza plays with light, sound waves and electric current. 'The National Apavillion of Then and Now' (2011), for example, has a circle of light in an anechoic (without echo) chamber which grows brighter with sound and completely dark in silence.
4) Ayesha Sultana. The Bangladesh native is medium-agnostic in her quest to explore “duality and the co-existence of material and immaterial,” says Thirukode. “Her work reveals the fragile, transitory nature of natural and built environments.” Read more about Sultana here.
5) Curated projects The Missing One by Nada Raza and Mining Warm Data by Diana Campbell Betancourt. Raza uses science fiction tropes as a theme to curate works by artists across the Asian subcontinent, while Betancourt’s curation of works respond to artists Chitra Ganesh and Mariam Ghani’s Index of the Disappeared (2004), an ongoing archival project that sheds light on the fraught histories of immigrant and dissenting communities in the US post 9/11.