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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Trying to make sense out of nonsense

Installation by two up and coming artists at Drik

Karim Waheed / May 6, 2009

Opening the door to the gallery on the second floor of Drik (in Dhanmondi), a gargantuan human form -- made of 5,000 shoe soles -- stretched across the whole floor baffles and awes one. Big labels with words "abstraction," "power," "policy," "decency," "ethics" etc make one stop and contemplate. Initial impact is bold.

Installation exhibitions in Bangladesh are still few and far between. Perhaps, because of that lack of exposure, art enthusiasts here are unhesitatingly keen on art installation. The ongoing exhibition featuring concepts and works by two up and coming artists -- Faiza Faria Ahmed and Golam Dastagir -- at Drik Gallery seems to have garnered positive attention and interest. 

Titled "Sense of Being Nonsense," the display includes installation, paintings (mixed-media) and live performance. 

Faiza, a printmaking graduate from Faculty of Fine Arts (FFA), Dhaka University who is currently doing her masters on Development Studies, says that she believes art should be brought out of the snazzy, air conditioned galleries and incorporated into everyday life, in particular, aspects like generating awareness. But she also admits that she is not yet liberated from the unavoidable human trait, duality. Though she intends to get involved in social development through her art, as an artist she wants exposure too. Her concept and installation at the exhibition highlights her relentless efforts to break free from the buzzwords used in development studies. This is an endeavour to combine her fields of study. 

Outsized green bubbles -- made of newspaper and toilet paper -- hover over the human form (mentioned previously). "They represent elements of the soul," says Faiza. In her paintings, done on pieces of thrown-away cardboard boxes, she has used black and sand. Dastagir, the other participating artist, is also an FFA graduate. His concept and work employs everyday objects in an artistic layout, introducing life and beauty to previously uninspiring objects.

According to Dastagir, the inspiration for his artwork has been drawn from the local urban environment. Bottles with plastic funnels form rows on the floor. The ones with green funnels have organic objects in them, red funnels denote hazardous chemicals, while some bottles which no funnel are meant for the viewers to contribute to. An accompanying painting shows a human with an exhaust pipe attached as a breathing apparatus.The artist hopes that presenting mundane, familiar objects in this way would promote discussions on a range of issues and how art coincides with the society. The installation challenges the viewer to analyse how we treat our environment and re-consider our concept of “waste.”

Harvest Rich has partially sponsored the exhibition and Jaago Foundation (through Adcom) has provided assistance. The exhibition ends today.


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