Culture
March 9, 2019

Fabric(ated) Fractures

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Alserkal collaborated with the Samdani Art Foundation on Fabric(ated) Fractures, which opened in Concrete on 9 March 2019. The group exhibition features works by Bangladeshi, South Asian, and Southeast Asian artists, and will explore “sensitive spaces”—spaces that challenge ideas of nation, state, and territory.

On show from March 9–30, 2019, Fabric(ated) Fractures provided a platform to amplify the voices of artists from Bangladesh and South and Southeast Asia, and built on the exhibition There Once was a Village Here held at Dhaka Art Summit 2018. Curated by Samdani Art Foundation Artistic Director Diana Campbell Betancourt, Fabric(ated) Fractures also introduced new works from artists with a connection to Bangladesh.

Alserkal and the Samdani Art Foundation both champion homegrown talent in their respective regions, and this exhibition further highlighted the importance of patronage in creating a springboard for dialogue. Building on the longstanding cultural connections between the Middle East and South Asia, this collaboration helped highlight Bangladesh and the artists related to it. The collaboration served as a bridge to Dhaka Art Summit 2020, which shifted its focus to explore Bengal’s position at the crossroads of historical exchange between Africa and Asia.

Presented at Concrete, the OMA-designed building located in Alserkal Avenue, Fabric(ated) Fractures considers contexts that anthropologist Jason Cons describes as “sensitive spaces” in his 2016 book Sensitive Space: Fragmented Territory at the India-Bangladesh Border. Though often razed, with their people forced to succumb to the state, subdue to its needs, and submit to the domination of majority forces, the social fabric of these spaces often remains intact even if its people are displaced and their dwellings levelled—a testament of human resilience. The artists and works featured in Fabric(ated) Fractures respond to the complexities of these sensitive spaces.

Divides in South Asia were fabricated by the British as a colonial tool for subjugation. When the British carved out Pakistan from an independent India in 1947, establishing East and West wings, they created a country united only by its common majority religion, Islam—ignoring the plurality of cultures. This is especially true when considered from the perspective of village rituals that inspire much of Bangladeshi modern art.

The name Bangla Desh means the land where people speak Bangla (Bengali) and Bangladesh was born in 1971 on the back of the Language Movement in the 1950s, when people fought for the right to speak, live, and work in their own language. Linguistic lines offer far more room for cultural diversity; there are at least 42 other languages spoken within this territory, and regional lenses, such as overarching headers like “MENASA”, tend to filter out the many strands of difference found on a local level. The exhibition aimed to weave a more complex picture of the vibrant and diverse facets that comprise a yet-to-be crystalised Bangladeshi identity in a country less than fifty years old.

The 15 artists in the exhibition bear witness to violence unfolding in their communities, and their work often acts as a register for this trauma, grounding the constricting present in a more porous past. They include Pablo Bartholomew, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Rashid Choudhury, Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad, Shilpa Gupta, Hitman Gurung, Ayesha Jatoi, Ashfika Rahman, Joydeb Roaja, Reetu Sattar, Kamruzzaman Shadhin, Debasish Shom, Jakkai Siributr, and Munem Wasif.

Despite carrying the weight of enormous pain, the deeply poetic practices of these artists are able to create spaces of empathy through which new modes of solidarity might be imagined.

PUBLIC PROGRAMME

30 March

Guided tour | Fabric(ated) Fractures


18 March

Performance | Harano Sur (Lost Tune) by Reetu Sattar

Harano Sur (Lost Tune) focuses on the harmonium, a musical instrument that is tightly integrated into the traditional culture of Bangladesh, but is in danger of disappearing. Numerous musicians play three notes of the seven notes of the harmonium, creating a sustained droning sounds through which the artist explores the violence and social upheaval that have recently affected Bangladesh.

Performance | Residue by Ayesha Jatoi

Piles of white garments were lay conspicuously in the exhibition space. The piles slowly disappear as the artist Ayesha Jatoi takes each piece of clothing and folds and stacks it across the room. This performance is a metaphorically burdened act in uncertain times of putting away the remnants of love, of longing, of trying to make sense of the senseless: of what, or who, has been lost.

9 March

Performance | Harano Sur (Lost Tune) by Reetu Sattar

Harano Sur (Lost Tune) focuses on the harmonium, a musical instrument that is tightly integrated into the traditional culture of Bangladesh, but is in danger of disappearing. Numerous musicians play three notes of the seven notes of the harmonium, creating a sustained droning sounds through which the artist explores the violence and social upheaval that have recently affected Bangladesh

Performance | Residue by Ayesha Jatoi

Piles of white garments lay conspicuously in the exhibition space. The piles slowly disappear as the artist Ayesha Jatoi takes each piece of clothing and folds and stacks it across the room. This performance is a metaphorically burdened act in uncertain times of putting away the remnants of love, of longing, of trying to make sense of the senseless: of what, or who, has been lost.

Performance by Joydeb Roaja

Joydeb Roaja’s powerful drawings come to life as the artist uses his body as a form of resistance, highlighting the plight of indigenous people in Bangladesh.


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