DHAKA ART SUMMIT
IS THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT A BIENNALE?
The Dhaka Art Summit is not a biennale. DAS rejects the traditional biennale format to create a more generative space for art and exchange. Although DAS takes place every two years, this format is simply for organisational and logistical purposes.
Through its interdisciplinary programme—which includes collaborative group exhibitions and experimental writing initiatives, as well as film and talks programmes—DAS concentrates its endeavours towards unlocking new areas of inquiry for art and architecture related to South Asia. It also promotes the work of South Asia’s contemporary and historic creative communities.
It is important to note that Bangladesh already has an established biennale—the Asian Art Biennale—which has hosted 17 previous editions in the same venue as DAS: the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
WHERE IS THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT HELD?
The Dhaka Art Summit is held at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, in Dhaka. The academy is the principal state-sponsored national cultural centre of Bangladesh, and also the national academy of fine and performing arts.
HOW IS THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT FUNDED?
The Samdani Art Foundation—who also produce the Dhaka Art Summit—fund over 90% of DAS. The remaining 10% is funded by the Foundation’s governmental and private partners.
WHY ONLY NINE DAYS?
The Dhaka Art Summit costs nearly $2 million USD to produce, and each day of the event incurs considerable costs which need to be covered by funding. In 2016, the Samdani Art Foundation—DAS’s producers—worked hard to increase the daily exhibition opening times by an additional two hours, and to extend the summit by a full extra day. In 2018, DAS’s duration increased to nine full days and will remain the same duration for the next edition in 2020.
HOw many people attended THE PREVIOUS editions of the DHAKA ART SUMMIT?
In 2016 the Summit welcomed 138,000 local and 800 international visitors over four days. In 2018, this figure increased to 317,000 local and 1,500 international visitors over five days.
HOW MANY ARTISTS PARTICIPATEd IN das 2018 AND FROM WHICH COUNTRIES were THEY?
The 2018 edition of the Summit looked at connections between Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean belt, exhibiting over 300 artists from across South Asia, including Bangladesh (65% of the artists exhibited were Bangladeshi), Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Myanmar, and India.
how many works IN das 2018 were SPECIFICALLY COMMISSIONED FOR THE SUMMIT?
Almost 1/3 of the work in DAS 2018 was newly commissioned, including works by Rasheed Araeen, Sheela Gowda, Zihan Karim, Htein Lin, Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran, Randhir Singh and Seher Shah and Reetu Sattar.
The third edition of DAS in 2016 included major commissions by internationally acclaimed artists including Po Po, Simryn Gill, Prabhavathi Meppayil, Lynda Benglis, Sandeep Mukherjee, Amanullah Majadidi, Dayanita Singh, Mustafa Zaman, Christopher Kulendran Thomas and Pablo Bartholomew, along with and some of the most exciting emerging names from the region, including Ayesha Sultana, Shumon Ahmed, Waqas Khan, and Munem Wasif.
WHO CURATEd the DHAKA ART SUMMIT 2018?
Joining Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, DAS 2018's Guest Curators included: Amara Antilla (Assistant Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York), Simon Castets (Director, Swiss Institute, New York), Beth Citron (Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Rubin Museum), Cosmin Costinas (Director, Para/Site, Hong Kong), Milovan Farronato (Director, Fiorucci Art Trust), Katya García-Antón (Director and Curator, Office for Contemporary Art Norway), Vali Mahlouji (Founder, Archaeology of the Final Decade), Mohammed Muniruzzaman (Director, National Art Gallery, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy), Shabbir Hussain Mustafa (Senior Curator, National Gallery of Singapore), Sharmini Pereira (Founder and Director, Rakng Leaves), and Devika Singh (Centre of South Asian Studies, University of Cambridge) assisted by Samdani Art Foundation Assistant Curator Ruxmini Reckvana Q Choudhury and Assistant to the Artistic Director Abhijan Gupta.
Bearing Points benefits from the curatorial collaboration of Dr. Maria Balshaw (Director, Tate) for Raqib Shaw’s presentation as part of the New North New South network, and Alexie Glass-Kantor (Executive Director, Artspace, Sydney) and Michelle Newton (Deputy Director, Artspace, Sydney) for Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s commission.
WHAT IS THE SAMDANI ART AWARD?
The Samdani Art Award aims to support, promote, and highlight Bangladeshi contemporary art, and was created to honour one talented emerging Bangladeshi artist between the ages of 22 and 40. Continuing its collaboration with the Delfina Foundation, the 2018 Samdani Art Award deepened its support of emerging Bangladesh based artists under the curatorial direction of Simon Castets (Director, Swiss Institute, New York), who also conducted research for 89plus. The award will be juried by artists Sheela Gowda, Runa Islam, Subodh Gupta and Mona Hatoum, and chaired by Aaron Cezar (Director, Delfina Foundation). For the first time ever, the award show commissioned new work from a shortlist of eleven artists selected by Castets. In association with Liverpool Biennial, each of the ten shortlisted artists also received curatorial mentoring support from the New North and South network.
who are the samdani art award previous winners?
Previous award winners include: Mizanur Rahman Chowdhury (2018), Rasel Chowdhury (2016), Ayesha Sultana (2014), and Khaled Hasan and Musarrat Reazi (2012).
WHAT IS the education pavilion?
The Education Pavilion transformed the Summit into a free art school for the creative community of Bangladesh. Re-imagining the traditional toolboxes used when considering art-making and artistic practices, the curriculum was led by leading artistic practitioners and educators from institutions including: Goldsmiths University (UK); Yale School of Art (USA); Cornell University (USA); Kalabhavan Santiniketan (India); the Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University (Bangladesh); Harvard, South Asia Institute (USA); Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Switzerland); Open School East (UK); Council (France); and the FHNW Academy of Art and Design (Basel, Switzerland); among others. Hosting a bilingual, collaborative curriculum, programmed across DAS’s nine-day duration, the Pavilion developed a timely and productive discussion about art education in South Asia through free workshops, lectures and master classes.
Further details on the Education Pavilion programme can be found here.
HOW ARE THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT’S COMMISSIONS FUNDED?
All of the commissions are privately funded by the Samdani Art Foundation—DAS’s producer and main financial supporter—and occasionally through the support of international partners.
why are the solo projects not happening anymore?
For DAS 2018, the Solo Projects transitioned into Bearing Points - a curated section that punctuated DAS 2018’s various group exhibitions, reorienting how we consider art and South Asia. Bearing Points was curated by DAS Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, and featured a series of large-scale thematic presentations, including many commissions from artists and architects, which orientated the viewer towards lesser-explored transcultural histories of South Asia while weaving together strands of thought from the nine other guest-curated exhibitions and public programmes. Dr. Maria Balshaw, and Alexie Glass Kantor with Michelle Newton served as co-curators on Raqib Shaw and Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran’s contributions.
DOES THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE INDIA ART SUMMIT WHICH IS NOW THE INDIA ART FAIR?
No, they are separate organisations with very different missions.
DAS is not an art fair; it is a non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia, which re-examines how we think about these art forms in a regional and wider context. Many of the artists who are a part of the Summit do not have gallery representation, so the support of the Samdani Art Foundation—the main financial supporters and producers of DAS—provides a valuable platform to exhibit their work.
While the India Art Fair plays a very important role in the region, it is a for-profit entity and its content is limited to the artists represented by galleries that pay to be included in the fair.
IS THE DHAKA ART SUMMIT AN ART FAIR?
The Dhaka Art Summit is not an art fair. No income is generated from DAS for either the Samdani Art Foundation or the Samdani family.
In 2012 and 2014 DAS invited select galleries to exhibit at the summit free of charge, as part of its mission to increase the visibility of Bangladeshi and South Asian art, and to expose Bangladeshi galleries to international audiences. This invitation was conditioned on the space being used by the gallery for presentation purposes only, and not for commercial transactions.
To give visitors a snapshot of the local art scene in Bangladesh, DAS 2016 invited Bangladeshi art spaces (both commercial and non-commercial)—again allowing them to exhibit at the summit free of charge. DAS 2016 did not invite international galleries to exhibit.
For DAS 2018, this format is replaced with a curated platform for members of the Samdani Artist-Led-Initiatives Forum.
WHAT were 2018'S NEW INITIATIVES?
For the first time the programme looked at Bangladesh in relation to both South and Southeast Asia, moving away from an Indo-centric stance and giving an unprecedented focus on lesser-known art histories of Sri Lanka and cultures flattened out by nation building activities in the region, an in-depth examination of exhibition histories in South Asia, and—for the first time—an engagement with Iran and Turkey.
It also hosted the first ever Education Pavilion designed by the winner of the inaugural Samdani Architecture Award, Maksudul Karim. With the aim of recalibrating how we think about art and architecture, it featured interdisciplinary workshops with participants such as Raqs Media Collective, Superflex, Dayanita Singh, among others, and institutional collaborations with leading forces in arts education including Städelschule, Open School East, TBA21-Academy, Merce Cunningham Trust, FHNW Academy of Art and Design and Harvard, amongst others.
Also for the first time, the Summit extended its duration to nine days featuring both an Opening Celebration Weekend (February 2–4) and a Closing Scholars’ Weekend (February 8–10).
WHAT was THE 2018 TALKS PROGRAMME?
The Talks Programme for DAS 2018 began on the Summit’s Opening Weekend, with a talk exploring decolonisation in South Asian institutions and a history of unconventional patronage in South Asia. Focused on the theme of reorienting how the world considers South Asia and how South Asia presents itself to the world, the programme kicked off with a conversation about how directors at leading international institutions in North America, Europe, and Asia are reconsidering their collecting and programming to include art from South Asia.
The Talks Programme continued throughout the week, culminating with the Closing Scholars’ Weekend which entailed a rich series of talks considering the history of exchange between Bangladesh, Southeast Asia, and East Asia, and attempted to chart new paths for dynamic forms of inter-Asian collaboration. A highlight of the talks programme was a keynote lecture by leading Bengali public intellectual Dr. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak.
WHAT IS THE SAMDANI ARCHITECTURE AWARD?
This was the first year of the Samdani Architecture Award, whose winning design was unveiled as the Education Pavilion at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy for the Dhaka Art Summit 2018. The winner of the award was announced in September 2017 by an international jury made by Aurélien Lemonier (National Museum of the History of Immigration, Paris, France); Jeannette Plaut (Constructo, Santiago de Chile); and Shamshul Wares (Department of Architecture, State University of Bangladesh).
The winner of the first edition of the Samdani Architecture Award is Maksudul Karim’s (b. 1996) design, Chhaya Tori (ছায়া তরী), which translates as Shadow Boat. A level 3, B.Sc. Architecture student at Premier University in Chittagong, Karim’s design utilised traditional Shampan boat building techniques—synonymous with Bangladesh’s fishing communities—bringing traditional rural Bangladeshi construction techniques into the urban environment. Using bamboo as its primary construction material, Chhaya Tori (Shadow Boat) will floated above ground level on bamboo supports, covered with a shade (known locally as choi) erected using traditional bamboo inter-weaving techniques, that allowed natural light to fall into the internal teaching space. Bangladesh has one of the largest inland waterway networks in the world with nearly 5,000 miles of navigable waters, making boats a vital mode of transportation to the nation. Despite this, the use of traditional boat building methods is in decline in favour of mechanised mass-produced models.
Maksudul Karim was awarded wthe inaugural Samdani Architecture Award during the Dhaka Art Summit's Opening Celebratory Dinner on 2 February, and given funding towards further studies.