On Summit and other elevated spaces
Art summits/fairs are the most happening, though predictable, avenues through which to enter the much hyped and hybridized space of today's globalized platforms where art, artists, curators, art writers, promoters and most importantly galleries are thrown in with the hope of creating a site that will enable an expansion of the art market. Without making the mistake of thinking that hype and hybridity are mutually dependent, one easily realizes that fairs are the sine qua non of today's art scene and/or art market, and they together with other extended areas of expertise create the mythologizing machineries which inlay the otherwise finance-driven, pragmatically-devised site with a fitting 'image' of global ambition.
Dhaka Art Summit too has been no exception; only that it failed to live up to its promises in the areas of curation and staging of the forums. As the first ever adventure into the hyperspace, from where they attempted to freight Bangladeshi art into the global mainstream, it has only managed to send the message to the global art community that we too exist and are ready to be discovered.
We may assume that this bit of success is not a mean achievement at a time when government institutions, which so far played the most important part in facilitating the artists and art connoisseurs, seem somewhat out of tune with the recent developments in art. It was also for the first time that the Samdani Foundation, with the help of Dhaka artists and some key art connoisseurs, designed an attenuated form of showcasing deshi art after their curator had fallen out with the employer.
The Summit looked lean after years of Asian Art Biennale, which gave Bangladesh the first international event and the world class installation artists from Japan in the first few of its regular bi-annual presentation; there is no escape from the comparison.
As the three-day soiree brought in the invited corps of influential globetrotting art elites, the hosting of such a large-scale event, made possible through coordinated efforts with funding from major corporate entities including the most important contributor The City Bank, the event itself seemed like a mystery in the absence of proper infrastructures. Yet, it ushers in a new era of conveying meaning of art as a product of a globalized aesthetic order.
The summit sparked a lot of interest among the participants as well as the Dhaka cognoscenti, yet in the end the event leaves many a shady area in need of illumination in its wake. One such unattended helm is the issue of curation and how it might have made a huge difference in the art scene. This, the Dhaka art scene is yet to experience, no matter what the outcome maybe. With all its flaws and faux-experiences, it was an event of the decade for most artists and art lovers. And add to that the promise of the next one, which is right around the corner, scheduled to take place in 2014.
PS: Samdani Artist Development Award was presented to Khaled Hasan for his work Terror beat of Acid and the Samdani Young Talent Award went to Musrat Reazi for her work Moorang.