<%-- Page Title--%> Exhibition <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 127 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

October 24, 2003

<%-- Navigation Bar--%>
<%-- Navigation Bar--%>
<%-- 5% Text Table--%>

An Arty Farewell

Srabonti Narmeen Ali

Two parallel lines of tiny clay lamps (diyas) lit the driveway, welcoming people to the bi-annual Dhaka Longitudes Latitudes art exhibition on Road 62, House 2 in Gulshan. The venue was originally a two-storied house built in the 1970's. Owners Boby and Pablo Khan are tearing the house down to replace it with a condominium apartment complex. The exhibition, lasting from October 10th to 15th, was their “farewell party” to the house.

This is Dhaka Longitudes Latitudes second exhibition this year. The first one took place in April at an apartment complex, which was also being torn down, in Dhanmondi. Because the exhibition took place right in the middle of the Iraq War, a lot of the artwork featured anti war sentiment. However, there was no specific theme involved in either of these exhibitions, in order to encourage freethinking and individuality.

Organisers Humayun Kabir, Anam Biswas, Jayanta Halder and Shehzad Chowdhury spent over two months planning the event and the installation of all the art contributions and the decoration of the house took about two days.

Shehzad Chowdhury, artist and curator, comments, “The idea is to get the community involved. We are celebrating the end of the building…our goal is that we are trying to get a platform for different creative individuals, be they artists, musicians, painters, or filmmakers.”

The “platform” consisted of artistic expressionism in every corner. The lone guards' room at the gate entrance showed a snake-like string of skulls. Downstairs, a throng of people swayed to the rhythm and beats of the various bands playing in a corner room, also decorated with paintings and collages bearing messages about war and peace. Musicians who had never played together before got together and “jammed,” adding to the improvisational and impromptu feel of the exhibition. A lonely face stared across the room towards the graffiti against war on the opposite wall. An abstract mini exhibition of HIV/AIDS lay in the far corner with metal wires designed to signify the virus itself. Cards where glued onto every open space imaginable, including the banister of the stairs and the floors. The walls around the stairway held pictures of different scenes from Bangladesh. A portrait of a woman in a sari stood in front of gleaming clay pots decorated with glitter and paint. Doodles on anything ranging from scrap paper and envelopes to receipts added to the informal but overall “passionate about arts” ambience.

“Art is open to interpretation and it is interactive,” says Chowdhury. “It brings out who the artist is and allows them to share themselves with the world: their own socio-economic background, culture, ideals, relation to media, etc.”

There was no money involved in this exhibition. The artists and performers all contributed their work free of charge. Most of the artwork was from independent artists, although some students from various institutes, including the Charukala Institute of Art in Dhaka also contributed. “We tried not to make the exhibition so institutionalised in that sense,” says Chowdhury. “The only criteria is that all the artists are based in Dhaka. People bring things in every day for us to put in the exhibition.”

Young artists in Dhaka do not ordinarily have a non-institutional environment that encourages them to express themselves so freely. It is not very often that they find spaces such as this, which give them the opportunity to lose themselves in their passion: art.

Says organiser and guitarist Anam Biswas, “It's all about creating a free space for these artists. They need space -- both psychical and psychological -- for individual growth. Dhaka does not really give people our age who are artists such a space. We wanted to encourage these artists to find a space to experiment and express themselves, and give them a voice. What makes it even better for them is that there is an exchanging of ideas. The exposure of one person's idea can trigger another person's work.”




(C) Copyright The Daily Star. The Daily Star Internet Edition, is published by The Daily Star