Unfold, Chragee Art Show Edition 4
Cheragee Art Show 'unfolds' itself annually, brainchild of Jog Art Space which commenced in 2012 with a mission to light the torch of art in a public space – Cheragee Mor, a busy thoroughfare in Chittagong. Zihan Karim commandeered the 4th edition which ran from 18 to 19 December, 2015 – shepherding a bandwagon of artists scattered around Cheragee with their envoys of artworks. Unfold prefigures Zihan's emphasis on the process that saw each art through to its final 'appearance'. In this show the contemporary visual art forms were interspersed with experimental theatrical productions, puppet show and live music.
Riyad Mahmud summoned individuals from among the thronging crowd to write on the neighbourhood walls, braiding these with lines from literary works by local poets and writers. Riyad christened this conjoint art effort Public Autograph. Afsana Sharmin 'stilled' the movement of some of the viewers in blue brush-paint, Shadow Phenomena caught these characters in a slice of time, contemplative, an eternal shadow of the ongoing re-play of life. Cheragee became home to a small segment of the citywide stenciled graffiti work, Crow-Kak, in one such, a geared sentinel of public security guards his territory from behind Rabindranath's humanist presence. Nashid Bin Hannan set forth a civic 'ideal', through her Saibo, she fashioned waste-bins using offset print plates recycled from the disposal end of the press industry, a pre-eminent entity in Cheragee.
Razib Datta satirized the making of history by spinning imaginary stories about some of Cheragee's famous people, creating self-reflexive myths which he distributed amongst the audience in leaflets, a facsimile of the adverts that make their rounds in our 'everyday' as a token of a commodity culture rested on its own historicity. Palash Bhattacharjee critiqued the cyclical chain of demolition and construction of the walls in Cheragee that follows its own absurd logic in his double channel video work, Don't Sit Here. Ferdous Uddin Ahmad brought forth the menaces of flawed urban development, or its lack thereof, in his video Loop, screened against a slated door. Sumit Chakrabarty, turned pages of handbooks on how to secure a job, into shirts, displayed on clothe-hangers, forging a tribute to Cheragee as a job-hunters hub who regularly haunt its alleys to exchange notes on prospective employments. Indian artist Prabhakar Pachpute's video work Earthwork of Hadasti, projected on the windscreen of a car parked on a street of Cheragee, comprised of a cropped animation virtually regaling the realtime shifting scenes of a town he grew up in. A sumptuous plethora of video works included Ripon Saha's animated video The Last Supper, an irreverential gesture, the moving images threaded together master pieces of Zainul Abedin and Leonardo da Vinci, a parallax that displaced reified aesthetics to re-examine it in a time-space-less context. Rafiqul Shuvo's single channel video Xciting Things are Happening and Anjan Sarkar Jimy's Key Bhujhe Tar Opar Leela (Who Can Fathom His Transcendental Game) made their way into the video segment.
Joydeb Roaja's symbolic re-presentation of the political turmoil and racism that daily blight the lives of the pahari (indigenous) community of Chittagong was entitled Unnayoner Chape Unnati (development trampled under its own weight in translation). His performance bridged art with viewers as they became complicit in the act as Roaja's 'body' became the reservoir of a collective spirit. Zahed Ali Chowdhury Yuvaraj, in his performance Gachcher Naam Kaamdev (The Tree Named Eros, loosely in translation), exploited the ubiquitous theme of contemporary political violence. Sarad Das's We are Going Fast!! served as a vehicle for a reflection on the multilateral conflicts, a corollary to the increased and increasing velocity that mark our modern existence portrayed by two riders biking in opposite directions. On the last day of the show Frame School of Drama Dance and Music presented their experimental theatrical productions in succession, namely Text Interruption 1 and 2, and Smallest Theatre in the World.
Two alternative venues, the famed bookshop Batighar and Kadam Mubarak School hosted some art works. Wakilur Rahman's Between Sound and Silence fostered a 'play within a play', his installation with books sharing in the space inside Batighar. Pema Tshering, an artist from Bhutan, showcased a 20-minute long video, In the Realm of the Gods inside the temple of logos, Batighar. The video documentation of a workshop for children on making puppets alongside a puppet show co-opted Kadam Mubarak School, a gig by Studio Jholpori. Artworks that featured in the same venue included There Goes My Hero by Mishuk Ehsan, Black Box and White Cube by Shaela Sharmin, Flavoured Dustbin by Shohrab Jahan against the backdrop of a musical soiree by Cheragee Pather Haat.
This edition of Cheragee Art Show was comparatively more organized which grew out of a constant dialogue between the curator and selected artists. Sites for specific artworks were aptly appointed and a visual mapping of their placement facilitated a defined encounter between artworks/artists and viewers. However, the spatial, historical and cultural significance of Cheragee remained an elusive phantom tugging insistently at the fringe of curatorial out-turn; some of the artworks stood at a yawning remove from expected contextual framing of site-specific exhibits. One can harbour and also see hope, that Jog would by degrees hone and reinforce their curatorial resources to bring about more 'meaningful' art events in the future.
– DEPART DESK