- The Summit will feature a diverse range of Bangladeshi, South Asian and international artists, with 85% of participants hailing from the global majority world and its diasporas
- With over 160 participants, 50% of whom are women and over 60% who hail from Bangladesh; this edition presents the widest range of artworks from across Bangladesh in the Summit’s history
- Over 50% of the works on view will be new commissions, exhibitions and performances
- The new commissions address global concerns from a local perspective, covering diverse topics from climate change, gender relations and intergenerational conversations, involving communities in Bangladesh and beyond
The Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) today announces the full list of artists who will be participating in the 2023 edition. Titled Bonna – both the word for ‘flood’ and a girl’s name in Bengali – the Summit will bring together a diverse array of over 160 artists and collectives to explore Bangladesh’s nuanced relationship to words and water. Free to the public, the biannual 9-day research and exhibition platform takes place at the Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka from 3 – 11 February.
Organised by the non-profit Samdani Art Foundation, DAS has become the global meeting point for research, discourse and engagement with South Asian art. A bridge connecting Bangladesh to the rest of the world, the Summit has developed across five previous successful iterations under the leadership of Nadia Samdani MBE, who, along with her husband Rajeeb Samdani, drives the production of this dynamic platform forward, having established the Samdani Art Foundation in 2011 to support the work of Bangladesh and South Asia’s contemporary artists and architects. The Foundation’s Founding Artistic Director and the Founding Chief Curator of DAS, Diana Campbell, has since 2013 developed the Summit into one of the world’s leading curatorial platforms and sites for artistic production, in collaboration with its growing number of local and international partners.
For the 2023 edition, Campbell is joined by returning guest curator Bishwajit Goswami (Assistant Professor, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh), whose exhibition দ্বৈধ (a duality) – a collaboration Brihatta Art Foundation with research support from Muhammad Nafisur Rahman (Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati) – will contextualise how the country’s artists have worked with the subject of climate change across generations. Sean Anderson (Associate Professor, Cornell University) curates To Enter the Sky, a presentation centred around an architecture of turbulence and the climatic challenges affecting the discipline; and Anne Barlow (Director of Tate St Ives) will curate the 2023 Samdani Art Award, an ongoing collaboration with Delfina Foundation which champions emerging Bangladeshi artists.
Exemplifying the Foundation’s wider mission, central to the 2023 edition of DAS will be Very Small Feelings, an exhibition and platform co-produced by the Samdani Art Foundation and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA), Delhi. Co-curated by Campbell and guest curator Akansha Rastogi (Senior Curator at KNMA) with Ruxmini Choudhury (Assistant Curator, Samdani Art Foundation), the exhibition conceptually follows Chittaprosad Bhattacharya’s (1915-1978) prompt to ‘tell a story’. It will bring together voices from Bangladesh, India and the global diaspora, inviting artists to draw on the power of telling and retelling stories. A suite of works by Joydeb Roaja will revisit his traumatic childhood memories growing up in the Tripura community from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, seeing army boot prints on the hills and tanks haunting his dreams. Generation Wish Yielding Trees (2009 onwards) began as a performance with his daughter, and the works are now presented as photo-drawing collage prints. Home (2022-23), a participatory performance by Yasmin Jahan Nupur in collaboration with the Bagri Foundation, creates a space for conversations around childhood memories and stories around places, landscapes and people. It is a place where visitors can express individual and collective memories as she searches for sights, smells and sounds that recall her ancestral village in Bangladesh. Invoking the power of imagination and exchange, the Belly of the Strange (2023) by Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty creates a transactional space, housing books that take us into the world of stories and illustrations for children and the child within us. Its large dreamlike structure, looming above the ground on multiple legs, summons different oralities, gestures and movements, confronting visitors of DAS with new and strange forms and ideas.
DAS strives to engender meaningful engagement with Bangladesh amongst the participating international artists. Engaging with contextual materials, Antony Gormley will collaborate with a team of Bangladeshi artisans to create TURN (2022-23), a ‘drawing in space’ made from 2.5km of bundled bamboo. An explosion of line, TURN invites viewers to transform its sinuous materiality into movement as they duck and twist through this looping entanglement. Temporary in nature, this dynamic field of energy evokes the shapeshifting journey of bamboo in Bangladesh – and will be recycled into other forms after the Summit. Inspired by the history of language and its movements in Bangladesh, Miet Warlop will present Chant for Hope (2022-23), a participatory sculpture created in collaboration with KANAL – Centre Pompidou, Brussels. A group of performers will sculpt a series of words in Bengali by flooding moulds with plaster, creating moving sculptures that find new meanings as they are danced, sung and passed across the visitors of the Summit. Elsewhere, London-based Rana Begum will present an installation made from fishing nets, inspired by the forms and reflections cast by those seen over the flooded rice paddy fields in Bangladesh. Her work speaks to the hope we search for in the sky and our connection with water.
The Samdani Art Award will present new works by 12 emerging Bangladeshi artists who reflect on social, economic and ecological concerns in the midst of one of the most difficult climatic periods for South Asia. Chaired by Aaron Cezar (Director, Delfina Foundation), the international jury includes Ibrahim Mahama, artist; Tarun Nagesh, Curator of Asian Art at the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) in Brisbane, Australia; Roobina Karode, Chief Curator, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art; Simon Castets, Former Samdani Art Award Curator and Director of Strategic Initiatives, LUMA Arles; and Nora Razian, Head of Exhibitions at the Jameel Arts Centre, Dubai. While each of the 12 works are distinct in their focus and material form, the exhibition as a whole conveys a sense of urgency in terms its themes, which range from questioning gender norms and advocacy for climate and social justice.
Across exhibits and artworks, the Summit will recurringly engage with the theme of the girl-child Bonna, and the opening panel will present her in conversation with her sisters: Natasha, EVA and Melly. Joining Campbell on the panel will be Binna Choi (Natasha, Singapore Biennale, and CASCO in Utrecht), Sebastian Cichocki (EVA International, Ireland’s Biennial, and the Museum of Modern art in Warsaw) and Vivian Ziherl (Kunstinstitut Melly, formerly Witte de With), to jointly consider the shift in how they see themselves as institutions and exhibition platforms after the profound changes in the landscape since the last iteration of DAS in 2020.