Bangladesh in Venice
The Bangladesh Pavilion at the 54th International Art Exhibition La Biennale di Venezia, popularly known as the Venice Biennale, awaits its auspicious launch in its designated venue. Under the rubric of 'Parable', five Bangladeshi artists have taken stabs at contemporary ideas by way of putting together conceptual pieces that manifestly bring to fore the contemporary bias towards hybridization as they nonchalantly put to use a range of mediums – from video to computer graphics to neon and more.
Though their declared intention, voiced in their concept paper, was to 'interpret contemporary cultural difference', the works are mostly about cultural integration – together constituting a display of how traffic of contemporary ideas defies national boundaries to initiate crosspollination.
The Bangladesh pavilion is the result of the curatoial efforts by Paolo W Tamburella and Mary Angela Schroth, Italy. Britto – the Dhaka-based artists' trust – played a key role in organizing the coming even, with Tayeba Begum Lipi, one of its founding trustees, acting as co-commissioner, working alongside her Italian counterpart Fiona Biggiero.
Bangladesh pavilion has been planned and executed by Britto in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh, Embassy of Bangladesh in Italy, Embassy of Italy in Bangladesh, Sala 1 in Rome.
Furnished below are the works soon to be transporter to their designated venue alongside artists' statements, shortened and edited by Depart Desk.
The Utopian Museum
My work investigates the geological time-scale known as the Warrasic Period that spans from about 1600 to 2000 AD. The name Warrasic is indicative of the invention of weaponry, war paraphernalia and their consumption.
During the course of the Warrasic Period, the dangerous and threatening animals (often referred to as killer weapons) invaded Earth resulting in the unavoidable mass destruction as well as the final extinction of these ferocious creatures.
The possible reason for their extinction could have been a sea change in perception and temperaments of the humans. Near the end of the Warrasic Period (1900-2000 AD), human beings learned to become much more tolerant and lived peacefully amongst themselves.
The work is a virtual museum that presents fossils discovered in different parts of the world in the form of sculptural relief, digital print and publication, all belonging to the Warrasic Period.
I was Told to Say These Words
Memories, like ideas, are translucent and layered, often shifting out of focus and going through transformations as we grow.
Within a given social system, many questions arise in our minds through what is perceived as forbidden. Out of curiosity we look for explanations in the wider realm where we sometimes find answers, though answers are never enough to shake the mystery off reality.
Growing up in a Muslim family I have always known that it is forbidden to treat pigs as domestic animals as the prejudice has been instilled in me at a tender age.
Prior to this project, some of my early works focused on cow/cowhide displaying strong emotions triggered by childhood memories, which were usually a way for me to form political commentaries as social criticism was an intrinsic part of the language.
This installation takes a somewhat different stance having more of an emotional and conceptual ring to it. I have tried to form my opinion through a process of naturalization rather than focusing on ideological beliefs to formulate a statement on the status of pigs in our society.
I have wrapped the fiberglass pigs in goat and cowhide and installed a neon word – 'Ma', meaning mother. The presentation reverberates with the sound 'Ma' – rendered groan-like as they are issued from inside the animals, thereby adding a haunting quality to the environment.
Harano Sur (Lost Rhythm)
Once upon a time, Panam Nagar was a place for the rich and the ruling elites. But now the area has fallen into disuse. During a recent visit to this site of ruins, I found an ancient prayer room along with rooms which used to serve other purposes in a broken down palace which currently functions as a public lavatory. I started thinking about the lives of those people belonging to the past generations – in the days when Panam Nagar's grandeur and glory were still intact. Thus, I could almost feel the replay of lost images inside my head.
For this project I have collected archival images of the inhabitants and locals who once occupied the houses that now lie in ruin.
The artist depicts himself as Medusa, the mortal Gorgon of classical Greek mythology, known for her terrifying beauty.
The work shows that the human shell is carried through the intricacies of life to be transformed into a powerhouse eventually, by being in the receiving end of various information on the surrounding world utilizing the five senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch.
I Wed Myself
From the moment of birth we are identified either as a boy or girl. Setting aside this conventional construction of gendered identity I strove to perceive the newborn as a child. I took my cue from the fact that despite my femininity there exists an innate masculine character in me.
In the video, I simultaneously assume two contrasting roles – one of a bride and the other of a groom – attending a wedding. As the bride, I meticulously articulate my role while seated on a wedding stage, wrapped in an appropriate bridal attire. As the groom I go through a close cropping of my hair, wear a mustache and change into ceremonial garb fitting to the occasion.
Bizarre and Beautiful
How do we represent the beauty of woman? Is it through the mind-body harmony, or only through the manifestation of a beautiful physique? How does a woman consider herself different from her male counterpart? Does this deference emerge largely due to the construct of the body?
My installation is a satirical take on the issue, though my expression almost verges on the bizarre as the work consists of 3,000 razor blades made of stainless steel shaped into 30 pairs of bra which hang from horizontal metal bars.
PHOTOS: BRITTO ARTISTS' TRUST