Media Art Bangladesh

Media Art Bangladesh


If we look back to history of art we always found that every starting of the new ism or trend viewer, general people, other artists or art critique create a big fuss. History of Bangladeshi art is not different from that, especially in the case of new media art in Bangladesh. New media trend start in the western world long back during in late 19th century, but in Bangladesh it’s quite new in primary position.
According to Wikipedia ‘New Media Art’ is a genre that encompasses artworks created with new media technologies, including digital art, computer graphics, computer animation, virtual art, internet art, interactive art, video games, computer robotics, and art as biotechnology. The term differentiates itself by its resulting cultural objects and social events, which can be seen in opposition to those deriving from old visual arts (i.e. traditional painting, sculpture, etc.). New Media concerns are often derived from the telecommunications, mass media and digital modes of delivery the artworks involve, with practices ranging from conceptual to virtual art, performance to installation.

New Media Art

New Media Art

Historical Background

As a country Bangladesh is quite new and gained independence in 1971. The first government art school was founded in Dhaka (capital of Bangladesh) 1948, mostly practiced European academic style from the art school of Kolkata. During the post-partition (1947-1971) in the East Pakistan and later liberated Bangladesh (1971), the mainstream visual art developed with its diverse subjects matters (socio political issue, liberation, nationality, language), but it did not make any fundamental change in its formal quality or objective presentation. Later some artistsstudied abroad and were inspired by abstract expressionism style in 1960. They continued their practice and created influences in the art of Bangladesh. There was very little connection of Bangladeshi art with world art by that time,which was major limitation for Bangladesh art.
In 1981 Bangladesh Shilpokala Academy organized an exhibition on contemporary Asian art called ‘Asian Art Bangladesh’. Later on, this particular exhibition started taking place regularly as Biennale. In the second exhibition in 1983, three Japanese artists Yoshio Kitayana, Shigio Toya and Shinji Tsuneki exhibited their works. They used non permanent materials (live plant, wood, bamboo, leather, paper, plaster of parish) in their works.  Like in caseof Yoshio Kitayanas work “words flow into the sea”, the artist used bamboo, wood, paper, leather, lead, copper  and represented an installation in non conventional (traditional canvas based painting or pedestal based sculpture) way. 
Words flow into the sea, Yoshio Kitayana, 1983

Words flow into the sea    Yoshio Kitayana, 1983

This exhibition provides to the local artist and viewers a first direct experience of the new conceptual trend of art.
In 80s because of the Asian Biennales, higher education and participation in various exhibitions in different countries Bangladeshi artists started going abroad more frequently. Advent of information technology, public media and international trade also contributed to clearer appreciation of the new media of world art by the artists of the country. Consequently, changes could be noticed in the works of the young and even senior artists.
The visual influence of this new conceptual trend was first noticed in the works of the sculptors.
Hamiduzzaman Khan and Alak Roy used unconventional elements and multiple media in the structure and presentation of their sculptures.
Living with nature, mixed media .Alok Roy, 2001

Living with nature, mixed media .Alok Roy, 2001

This particular quality also is noted in the works of Kalidas Karmakar. Relatively young artist’s attempted to follow the alternative and conceptual tendencies from within the existing traditional structure. Signs of thoughtfulness were noticed among the organized young artists of the70s. The creation of Dhaka painters is an example of the use of objective-oriented pre-thinking in experimental visual composition. In the 1980s, the Shomoy group expressed social awareness and denial of the market through their works. Their works attempted to create alternatives to the western formalistic trends. Japanese installation and performance arts particularly influenced the practice of conceptual new trends in the country. Though the artist community of Bangladesh had been visually experiencing installation and performance art since the 80s, there was not much interest practice the new trend before the 90s. In the mid-90s, several installation and performance art presentation took place in Bangladesh. Mainly the young student artists organized these various presentations in Dhaka. The sculptures of young artist Mahbubur Rahman obtained national as well as international attention. It should be mentioned that Mahbub, like Hamiduzzam and Alak Roy was at this time an enthusiasts  in multiple medium sculptures and in art created from a combination of materials instead of a conventional single form. He was invited the forth Asian Art Exhibition organized in the Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan in 1994. He organized an exhibition of installation work- made from wood, cloth and camphor- titled Waiting for the Heaven in the gallery of Shilpopakala Academy in Dhaka before leaving for Japan as an invited artist.
Waiting for Heaven, 1994, Mahbubur Rahman

Waiting for Heaven, 1994, Mahbubur Rahman

In the second half of the same year, three young student artists of the Institute of Fine Art, Dhaka University- Mahbubur Rahman, Tayeba Begum Lipi and Nasimul Khabir organized an environmental art camp in the hilly backdrop of Lama, Bandarban-a district situated in the southeast of Bangladesh. In this ten-day workshop, an initiative of their own, from 16th to 26th December, they practiced- in place of conventional art-environmental art, earthwork, installation and performance art.  They closely observed the life and culture of the tribal and immigrant Bengali communities in this workshop titled Towards Nature: In search of art and life. As a response to their observations, the artists practiced various temporary works of installation and performance art using environment friendly and local materials.
   Almost at the same time, in the annual exhibition of the Institute of fine art which diverse and interesting installations at the premises of the Institute. These installations were exhibited till January 1995. Next month. A post graduate student of the same Institute, Abhijit Chodhury, created different forms using pieces of wood, colored rags and paper and installed them in natural and man-made environment and exhibited an audio-visual presentation titled ‘Shobdo Kolpo Chitro’ with photographs of the installation along with music, on the Language Martyrs Day of 21st February. In the same year, on the Independence Day of 16thDecember, Abhijit and his classmate Humayun Kabir Bahar jointly organized an exhibition of installations.
After several endeavors resulting from the student artist interest in novelty, almost all of them went back to the conventional art forms. Besides, most of these works were presented and practiced in the confines of the courtyard of the Institute of Fine Art. Consequently, these presentations could not reach a wider audience beyond that of the students and teachers of art. Though these presentations received instant appreciation from a limited circle, they were unable to create any impact on society. And also this initiative failed to gather well-defined characteristics of a movement. Despite the loss of interest among the student artists some of the senior artists attempted to add new dimensions to this unconventional trend. They attempted to create a kind of environmental artwork focusing around subject like Independence, liberation war, language movement etc.
Ashok Karmokar presented an exhibition titled Kalratri or Dark Hour in Shilpokala Academy focusing on brutal genocide by the Pakistani army on 25th March, 1971- at the very beginning of the liberation war. The fortnight-long exhibition, which stared on 3rd October 1996, incorporated dramatic use of light and shade, and also music. A printmaker and illustration artist Ashok Karmaker’s involvent in stage design was reflected in this installation works.
Kalidas Karmokar,Alluvial Freedom

Kalidas Karmokar,Alluvial Freedom

In an exhibition of the senior artist Kalidas Karmakar- titled Liberation Seventy-one: Homage to Blue- organized in 1997, he presented a different trend of work alongside traditional ones. While conventional paintings hung on the walls, in the middle of the gallery, a group of white human figure-like sculptural structures were left lying around symbolizing the genocide of the Liberation War. In a corner of the exhibition, he placed a row of TV monitors, which showed the videos of some environmental works by the artist. Along with the issue of national sentiments such as the Liberation War, Independence etc. everyday social and political crisis became the subjects of installation and performance works.
Expo City, 1997, Mahbubur Rahman

Expo City, 1997, Mahbubur Rahman

An exhibition of Mahbubur Rahman titled Expo-City Crisis took place in the Alliance Françoise in Dhaka from 4th to 14th November. In this consecutive exhibition was to depict urban problems such as unplanned growth, black fume and other environmental pollution, traffic jam, mugging etc.   
In 2001, Pooja Sood, coordinator of an Indian artist group called Khoj came to Bangladesh. invited by khoj four Bangladeshi artists, Abul Mansur, Shisir Bhattacharjee, Tayba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rahman participated in their seminar and workshops in India. Khoj is essentially an all Indian organization established and run by Triangle Art Trust an England based art coordination organization. Triangle promotes new trend art outside the developed world-in Africa and Asia.
As a consequence of the inspiration gathered from attending the Khoj workshops in India and exchanging views with the founder of Triangle Art trust, Robert Loder, Britto Art Trust was formed in 2003. Chaired by artist Shisir Bhattacharjee and coordinated by Tyeba Begum Lipi, Mahbubur Rahman, Salauddin Khan Shrabon, Imran Hossain and Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty, Britto inititiated various activities within and outside the country. Among these were organizing, of workshops and residencies that encouraged works on installation, performance, video projection and such other new trends. Britto continued their activities in collaboration with many national and international organizations, in addition to the ones in the Triangle network. Britto organized a fornight-long workshop from 25 January to 7 February in 2003. This workshop was held in Tepantar Film City in Bhaluka, some 60 kilometers away from Dhaka. Artists including nine from other Asian and European countries participated in this exhibition. It was a major event for new trend arts in the local context. Other local artists , apart from a organizers  of Britto, who participated in this workshop were Niloofar Chaman, Dhali Al Mamoon. Lala Rukh Selim and Nisar Hossain. Almost all these artists, including Britto President Shisir Bhattachajee, have incorporated social and political sensitivity as an essential element in their works since the 80s. Keeping this element as a focus of their works, these artists adopted the new trend media in the 90s for presentation their artworks.
Britto Art Trust played an important role on Bangladesh new media art till now. Now days there are lots of contemporary artists are practicing in new media (digital media, installation, photography etc.) in Bangladesh and abroad.

Artists and their work

Though many of the contemporary artists have created works in the new trend, Mahbububur Rahman and Tyeba Begum Lipi can be considered comparatively regular among them. Both of them became interested in unconventional creation since 1994. They started creating different installation and performance works for alongside various national and international exhibitions, on their own or in collaboration with young art students. From 1997 to 1999, these two artists regularly worked on different solo or joint installation and performance art projects at home and abroad. But the year 2000 was a turning point for them. In this year, they participated in a number of residencies and workshops having been invited different institute in Germany and Finland. Jay koh, an artist of Asian origin, had an instrumental role in this. Apart from gaining more experience in different nontraditional arts like installation and performance, Lipi and Mahbub had direct experience of contemporary European arts in these tours.

Mahbubur  Rahman

Mahbubur Rahman, born in 1969, represents a new generation of artists who have introduced newer ideas and innovative techniques in our art. His work is marked by continuous experimentation and sifting of ideas for identifying ideological biases and entrenched notions which he likes to challenge. Moving away from canvas painting, many artists of his generation have employed a diverse range of media including video installation to explore the possibilities offered by new technologies. At the same time, these artists have rejected the ‘old idea of images’ and the concept of ‘well-made canvases associated with the artists of 1950s and 60s.
Drawing their strength from what can be aptly described, in hindsight, as ‘the postmodern turn’ in our art in the 1980s, the artists used irony, satire and a radical skepticism in their attack on legitimating social and political practices.
The freely mixed genres and broke down the distinction between high and low art (some indeed borrowed images from Rickshaw painting and movie banners) to challenge accepted modes of representation. One important influence behind the rise of these new trends was the Asian Art Biennale, which Dhaka began to host from 1981. The arrival of installation art from Japan alerted our artists to site specific installation, and installation of found objects. Later in the decade, some artists incorporated elements of performance art and body art in their work to articulate the new spirit of innovation marking the decade.
Mahbubur Rahman has done canvas painting, installation and body art, and, together with his wife and fellow artist, Tayeba Begum Lipi, set up an artists’ collective named Britto which worked as a platform to link similar artists’ groups in the region. From early on, he proved himself to be, in his own words, an ‘anti-establishment’ and ‘anti-self’ artist. He believes in non-conformity and in continuously pushing the boundaries of art. He also believes that the kind of self-enclosed, solipsistic attitude displayed by many older artists is wrong as it denies space to others to develop their identities. Ironically, for Mahbub, once the self finds a place and takes root, identity becomes fixed and dead. He therefore rejects established notions of self and identity and looks at identity as a fluid and constantly evolving concept.
In his work, Mahbub centralizes the body, celebrating its aesthetics as well as its ‘anti-aesthetics’ – in the sense of its alignment with decay, abjection and distortion. There is a marked element of the grotesque in his work which helps in effacing the fixed notions of self. Mahbub admits to tantric influences in his work especially in his emphasis on self-effacement.
Mahbub treats a range of subjects in his work such as local myths and history and contemporary political and ideological conflicts. He also focuses on postcolonial issues of power, domination and control, and believes in local resistance against different manifestations of neo-colonialism. One of his favorite motifs is the falcon or eagle, which imperial powers have used as a symbol of their might. In one of his works, an aboriginal man shoots an eagle with an arrow, suggesting a reversing of the superior-inferior binary.
Mahbub employs different materials, including metal and skin/hide for his work. As materials clash with each other, they spell out the nature of conflict Mahbub wants to highlight. In Artificial Reality, a series done in 2002, he explores the clash between the real and hyper-real. Another series, Self-Slaughter, done in the same year, exposes the cruelty we inflict on each other, and by extension, on ourselves. Using nine stuffed cowhides, Mahbub made a shocking installation work that jolted the viewers out of self-complacency. Another series, Enjoy the Democracy (2004) a performance art piece enacted in front of the National Parliament house, Mahbub brought out the hypocrisy inherent in our democratic practices and the inherently self-serving nature of those in power.
Transformation, Mahbubur Rahman

Transformation, Mahbubur Rahman

Transformation, Mahbubur Rahman

Transformation, Mahbubur Rahman

Another series done in the same year Transformation, shows farmers putting on yokes and transforming themselves into oxen, suggesting how for these neglected citizens, there is no alternative but to harness their own energy and power to refuse to change into non-entities.
For Mahbub transformation also means positive change: for him an art ceases to be meaningful once it is shoved into a niche, and does not grow beyond its boundaries. He constantly experiments with media, styles and materials to express his fast evolving ideas and views.
For the Venice Biennale, Mahbub has made a series of installation pieces composed of fibreglass, cow/goat hide, neon signs and metal cages, and used sound to bring home his message, which is our departure from the soothing regions of memory and our embracing of various ideological stands and biases. His emphasis on memory takes the installation piece close to his childhood, when all animals shared the same open space and all nature was there as well as the artist’s playground. A recreation of the ‘innocence and experience’ theme that runs through art and literature, Mahbub’s work shows how even animals are subjected to religious and ideological division. He has made a slight change in the ‘mooing’ sound made by the cattle to include the motif of mother, who remains an overarching presence in this installation, suggesting at the same time the validity of memory and a departure from it. The moo sound is now more pained and tortured: it is now “maaa”, the word ‘ma’ being mother in Bangla. Mahbub brings out the inevitable result of our ‘experience’ phase: cruelty, incarceration and the various taboos that restrict our freedom.
As Mahbub says about his work, “In the social system, the forbidden, arises many questions in our mind. Our curious mind looks for an explanation within the wider realm where we sometimes find answers, though answers never come out of mysteries. The norms in the diverse culture of societies are usually created according to the local atmosphere, weather and time. Many illogical norms co-exist bringing about conflict and compelling us to decide how we ought to act.
The larger part of the community chooses the social norms whereas in multitudes of neighborhoods culture of expands basing on religious ideologies. A community even has inclinations to take a decision regarding domestic animals. In my country, for instance we are familiar in domesticating the cow but not pig. While it is almost forbidden to treat the pig as a domestic animal, growing up in a Muslim family, prejudiced feelings were instilled in me from a tender age.
Prior to this, some of my early projects on cow/cowhide were induced by strong emotions triggered from childhood memories, usually with a political criticism intrinsically being part of the work.
However, this installation takes a different kind of a stance interlinked with more of an emotional and conceptual premise. I have tried to sift through a natural view rather than centering on ideological beliefs, to reveal the existence of the animal, such as a pig in my society. Perceiving life through this animal, which is cloned by the structure of a pig and the hide of cow, I tried to create a vague trust on a new product. In the installation, I have wrapped the fiberglass-made pigs with goat and cowhide; and inserted a neon word piece -“Ma” meaning mother.”
The installation work is a forceful reminder of the fact that if we stifle our primal sounds and calls that evoke mother, nature and the freedom that nature inspires, we will end up being a cerebral society.
A Representation of Replacement, Mahbubur Rahman

A Representation of Replacement, Mahbubur Rahman

The collective memory of the trauma of partition and the liberation war drove Rahman to innovate with poignant themes across genres and mediums that include the folk literature of Bangladesh and performances as well.
The artist is playing with an odd contrast of material in his installation for the India Art Fair – by using them as symbols of man’s political state of being, repression and inherent human curiosity that bring about finer appreciation for aesthetics and a desire to know.
Rahman says he “wanted to make a new language in my piece by using different materials and objects”. One of the symbols in the installtion is an Ambassador car, “usually used by an identified community as a public and private vehicle”.
“I have made the outfit of an Ambassador car using the leather of used army boots that may raise different curiosity among viewers. Thousands of used army boots emerge from the boot of the car to create a huge dome adjacent to the car,” Rahman said.
The ceiling of the dome is made out of the stitched leather from used army boots. Two chairs and a table covered with cowhide give a sense of space inside the dome. The dome tells a story with the “projection of two pairs of hands accompanied by the sound of dripping water, an iron door and the sound of boot steps like an interrogation room,” Rahman said.
Mahbubur Rahman was born in 1969 in Dhaka. He completed his MFA at the Institute of Fine Art, University of Dhaka in 1993. Rahman has exhibited widely internationally. His selected shows include 54. La Biennale di Venezia 2011; 5th-14th Asian Art Biennale, Dhaka; Secher Scott, Copenhagen; Videozoom: Bangladesh, Sala 1, Rome, Italy, 2010; 9th-16th, 18th National Art Exhibition, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka; Separating Myth from Reality, an international show organised by Siddharta Art Gallery, Kathmandu; 1mile² Dhaka, at Old Dhaka, 2009; Britto New Media Festival, Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka, 2009; Six Degrees of Separation, South Asian Artists’ Exhibition, Anant Gallery, Delhi; Off the Beaten Path, South Asian Artists’ Exhibition, Drik Gallery, Dhaka; Bangladesh Contemporary Art Week, Turkish Cultural and Tourism Center, New York and Bangladesh Contemporary Art Show, European Union House, Brussels by Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts; In collaboration with Mithila Art, Christiania Gallery, Copenhagen, 2008 and in Gallery Kaya, Dhaka, 2007; Khula Doka, door project, Arts Council, Kathmandu; South Asian Contemporary Art Exhibition, Copenhagen, 2006; In Collaboration with Rickshaw Painters, La Galerie, Alliance Française  Dhaka; Open Studio Day Show, Gasworks Studio, London, 2005; Contemporary Artists of Dhaka, Gallery NICA, Yangon, Myanmar, 2004; LAAL: The Passion of Zahoor-ul-Akhlaq, Gallery of Mississauga, Ontario, 2003; Indian Triennale, Lalitkala Academy, Delhi ;3rd Young Artist’s Exhibition of Japan-Bangladesh, Gallery 52, Japan and Zainul Gallery, Dhaka, 2001; Translation, Displacement and Actualisation, Gallery ’68 elf’, Cologne, Germany; Veri-nice-saari a  performance & installation art show, Jyvaskyla, Finland; Rickshaw Painting in Bangladesh, Galerie-Freiraum, Waltrop, Germany, 2000; Traveling Exhibition in South Asia in Kathmandu, Thimpu, Kolkata & Dhaka and finally 4th Asian Art Show, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan, 1994.
Mahbub is a Founder-Trustee and Honorary coordinator of Britto Arts Trust.

Tyeba Begum Lipi

Lipi focuses on the human cost of the contemporary and past maneuverings of international governments and companies both in Bangladesh and elsewhere. She uses rhymes and stories from childhood that are born out the societies such as her own that have suffered at the hands of colonialism and trade restrictions to create iconic pastiches that are reminiscent of historical portraiture.
Tayeba Begum Lipi was born in 1969 in Gaibanha, Bangledesh. Winner of the Grand Prize at the 11th Asian Arts Biennale in 2004, she is a leading light in the Bangladeshi art scene with a growing international reputation. Her work stretches across a broad range of media and reflects a desire to engage with as wide an audience as possible.
Primarily working with video, performance and installation, Lipi’s art often involves portraiture and feminine iconography (such as mannequins and dolls) to explore themes around the nature of female identity. Her piece, ‘My Childhood’ (2003; winner of the AAB prize) playfully demonstrates many of her ideas: a large, painted self-portrait is veiled behind a series of neatly ordered dolls; the smiling, white skinned dolls serve to contrast with the enigmatic expression of her own image and raise questions about childhood role models, femininity and race.
For Lipi, as a Bangladeshi female artist working in a strongly male dominated society, the personal must inevitably betray the political; indeed, the turbulent political history of Bangladesh (the war of independence from Pakistan in the 1970’s; the military dictatorship of the 1980’s; governmental corruption, widespread poverty and overcrowding) is a factor which informs the work of many of her Dhaka based contemporaries (not least, that of her husband, the artist Mahbubur Rahman). The socio-political element to Lipi’s work can also be seen in the context of her Damascene conversion to the life of an artist: an accidental painter, she only decided to pursue art during the mid 1980’s, following a chance visit to the Institute of Fine Art at Dhaka University, having originally intended to follow a career in journalism. Despite this change of destiny, Lipi retained a journalist’s eye for the topical and the ability to relate wider issues through the lens of her own experiences; a quality that also lends itself to an underlying theme in her work concerning the tension between artist and society. Furthermore, this conceptual concern finds a parallel in her formal experimentation with artwork and audience.
Toys Are Watching toys, 2004, Tayeba Begum Lipi

Toys Are Watching toys, 2004, Tayeba Begum Lipi
One example of this is her piece ‘Toys Are Watching Toys’ (2004), where life-sized, burkha clad dummies are seated before a large oil portrait of three glamorous, realistically painted, female faces. With a silent covenant between the gaze of the faces in the portrait and those of their ersatz spectators, the real audience becomes unsure as to exactly how complicit their own presence is in the structure of the work; the act of looking itself coming under scrutiny.

In an effort to resolve some of the tensions highlighted in her work, Lipi has also sought to encourage social engagement with art, promoting workshops where both the public and other artists can interact with one another. The strongest realization of her commitment to this is shown by her involvement with (and continued coordination of) the Britto Arts Trust, a Dhaka based, non-profit, initiative that she co-founded (along with her husband and several other artists) in 2001. Set up to encourage the Dhaka art scene, Britto is also part of the international Triangle Arts Trust workshop and residency network, and as such helps to foster international relationships and cross-cultural dialogue between artistic communities.
Love Bed, Tayeba Begum Lipi

Love Bed, Tayeba Begum Lipi
Through her work, Lipi explores the feminist issues of marginality and representation of the female body. She strives to understand why the notion of beauty is largely determined by heterosexual male sensibilities. This concept is often illustrated through the use of razor blades as one of her main materials.

Lipi’s piece, “Love Bed”, was previously exhibited at Dhaka Art Summit in 2012. The piece is made of stainless steel and razor blades. Through this bold work, Lipi wants to convey the predicaments women face in our society.
I Wed Myself, 2010, Tyeba Begum Lipi

I Wed Myself, 2010, Tyeba Begum Lipi

For the video I Wed Myself (2010), Lipi portrays a bride with traditional makeup and formal attire preparing for her wedding, then crops her hair and adds a moustache to also adopt the role of groom. Juxtaposing these two roles within a single frame, she stands as both husband- and wife-to-be on the wedding stage, a video of the transformation process projected alongside. By adopting this dual personality, Lipi inquires into the definition of gender and the possibility of possessing both feminine and masculine traits. Addressing societal contradictions between real identities and those rooted in misogyny, she exposes the importance of questioning the sexualized structures that dominate women’s lives in Bangladesh and beyond.
As she says, “in the video, I simultaneously assumed role reversals of both the bride and groom of my wedding. First, as a bride I enacted my existence meticulously in bridal attire on a wedding stage. Returning to the green room for a cropped haircut with the additional mustache, I changed and performed again as a groom. A professional make-up artist and hairdresser were actively involved in this project.”
Bizarre and Beautiful, 2011, Tyeba Begum Lipi

Bizarre and Beautiful, 2011, Tyeba Begum Lipi

She use iconography based on femininity is Bizarre and Beautiful (2011), an installation of female undergarments crafted from stainless steel razor blades. A stark contrast to the expected sensual materials, the blades create a rigid armor, offering protection for the imagined wearer while issuing a warning to the onlooker. Inspired by the strong women of her childhood, Lipi’s work questions the representation of women’s bodies and the history of their social roles, particularly in Bangladesh, where historical and religious expectations continue to determine what is permissible.
Lipi’s statement about this work, “how do we represent the beauty of a woman? Is it a beautiful mind/body or does it rely on a beautiful body alone? How does a female find herself different than her male counterpart? Is it relevant largely to the construct of the body?
My work installation is a satire of the bizarre, consisting 3000 razor blades of stainless steel reshaped to that of a bra of 30 pieces, suspended from bars in a metal shelf. Here you find a sense of forebode as well as a monstrous desire/sensuality working in tandem where the blades are not sharpened in reality, but appear to be so, threateningly reflecting in the light.
A number of people have worked in this project. The blades were reproduced in a small workshop in Old Dhaka, while the bras were made in a welding workshop in Sobujbagh.
 While gender suggests we are defined as a boy or a girl from the moment of birth, I prefer to perceive the newborn as a child. Despite my femininity as a woman, there also lie innate masculine characteristics within me.”
Catacomb of Life, Tyeba Begum Lipi

Catacomb of Life, Tyeba Begum Lipi

Catacomb of Life, Tyeba Begum Lipi

Catacomb of Life, Tyeba Begum Lipi

Her video work “Catacomb Of Life”, Lipi says, “We have been passing through our lives like the waves of water. We come to this earth and become a part of the play, on a huge podium; we pass our lives, locate our existences and then in the end go back to the same earth again.
A life of comfort and peace may lead to contentment, but, it can put someone in isolation; one can live in peace, away from the dangers and calamities in a given society, but the end can come to anyone, anytime, without notice. Frustration and disillusionment related to suppression in our daily lives as well as the attitude related to grimy politics may even render someone’s life worthless. Still, living in this earth is about keeping hope alive somewhere silently, compassionately – this is human nature.”
In this work, amidst the water flow, a bathtub significantly increases the sense of isolation. She used her body to allude to a life in tranquility and isolation. The bubbles start coming out of nowhere and the reluctant body is drowned in the water – gradually. The catacomb is made by the tentative order of our time – that is the reality of this very blissful human condition.
My Daughter Cot, Tyeba Begum Lipi

My Daughter Cot, Tyeba Begum Lipi

Her work My Daughter’s Cot II stainless steel razor blades 40 x 28 x 48 in. executed in 2012. In an interview she said about this work, “Most of my works are related to very personal issues of human life. I always like to play with contradictions as I think our life is full of absurdity. The COT is only a cold empty space to me. I see, and at the same time do not see, the nightmare of the bloody hours and months it took for me to make this piece. I am from a large family. I’m the 11th of 12 children. I was born in the northern part of Bangladesh in a very small town called Gaibandha. I watched my nephews and nieces grow up next to me. Those days women gave birth at home with the help of a village woman. The only tool to support the delivery was a new sharp razor blade that had to be boiled on a stove before the baby was born. Perhaps this memory from my childhood stuck in my head. I love to use various materials in my art work. In the beginning, I might have been influenced by other artists who used real razor blades. But in the end, when I decided to create an object with the same material, I decided to fabricate the razor blades in stainless steel, which gave my work another dimension.” Through her work, Lipi explores the feminist issues of marginality and representation of the female body. My Daughter’s Cot II is an autobiographical and deeply poetic work made of razor blades. From a distance, the cot looks beautiful and majestic. Gleaming like smooth stainless steel against the light the viewer imagines an exquisite cot built for a highly doted upon and beloved child. On closer examination, the viewer realizes that the work is made of blades and suddenly the cot takes on a potentially threatening aura. The fact that the blades are not sharpened adds a third dimensionality between reality, awareness and perception
Lipi was awarded Grand Prize at the Asian Art Biennial, Dhaka, in 2004. She has been an artist-in-residence at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2000); NICA, Yangon, Myanmar (2004); Gasworks International Residency Programme, London (2005); and Studio RM, Lahore, Pakistan (2008). She was the commissioner for the Bangladesh Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (2011) and one of the curators for the Kathmandu International Art Festival, Nepal (2012). She has had solo exhibitions at Alliance Française (1998 and 2004), Gallery 21 (2001), and Bengal Gallery (2007), in Dhaka, and participated in the two-person exhibition Parables of Our Times at Gallery Akar Prakar in Kolkata (2010). Notable group exhibitions include Separating Myth from Reality: Status of Women at the International Art Festival organized by Siddhartha Art Gallery, Kathmandu (2009), Jakarta Biennial (2011), Venice Biennale (2011), and Colombo Art Biennial (2012).
Lipi is currently featured in the traveling exhibition No Country: Contemporary Art for South and Southeast Asia at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York (February – May 2013), Singapore and Hong Kong. Furthermore, her work has recently been acquired by the Guggenheim for their permanent collection.
Lipi lives and works in Dhaka.

Ronni Ahmed                 

Ronni’s main world of ideas is determined by the influence of Surrealism. He creates a scene steeped in mystery by bringing together strange and grotesque creature and environment from a world of fantasy which is beyond the experience of reality; this may be image of some thought from the depth of consciousness.
Ronni Ahmed entered the Institute of Fine Art in 1993. He first became known for his trail-blazing stories and he himself of the opinion that his artwork are closely linked with his literary endeavor.
Ronni first caught the attention of a close circle of friends and art lovers with his sense of comic extremity. His weird human-like characters were willfully melded with different contraptions; this lent his art an absurdity which was new. He, during his study, was never interested in learning the craft of drawing and painting a given subject following the academic mode.
Ronni stands for an outré sensibility that does not to jolt the viewers but makes them think and be amused. Sarcasm, absurdity and wit, these are the ingredients that he and his art are made of.
“Art basically is art history, meaning every creation is another addition to the history of art,” believes Ronni, who is also prone to the idea of art as race-oriented, as history itself is based on race. Ronni’s contention is that, art addresses feelings that go beyond our normal level of emotion. His art truly resides in the meta-world, his grotesque figures and structures are there to make us aware of this. Though, at first glance, they may seem as if their existence is to mock the present socio-political realities. His art do this to some extent, but its chief aim is to create a parallel universe.
As an art critic, he is well known, as an artist he stands in the fringe. But the new era belongs to new ideas, and Ronni, as an artist is slowly gaining ground. He is optimistic about emergence of new art in Bangladesh based on new ideas, but he also believes that it is contingent upon the interrelation of all the existing and newer concepts.
Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth, Ronni Ahmed

Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth, Ronni Ahmed

In Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth by Ronni Ahmmed, the world’s largest sculptural installation of a turtle, made into a flag, the animal seems to be caught in the midst of invoking the “fourth song”, as was once announced by Comte de Lautréamont: “A man, a stone, or a tree is about to begin the fourth song!”
Proposing the search for a contemporary myth, a transmission that is at the same time authentic, imaginary and archetypal, Ronni aims to capture the immediacy of a vision, a synergetic and mythical vision that would be both intact and unspool, against the Cartesian model that favors a limited sphere in defining and demarcating what is “real”.
Exploring the importance of myth that lies at the heart of human sensitivity and around which human society rotates, Ronni, whose first exhibition bore the unusual title MythoRonnia, has made myth the focus of the truth(s) of his fiction.
Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth combines, in a coherent but mosaic-like language, “facts” from I Ching, Native Americans’ Turtle Island, Indian folklore and Aryan oral tradition, Ninja Turtles, Cecil Turtle from Looney Tunes, personal dreams and so on in a series of materials that present the “turtle” as an overt instrument and a hidden mode of dialogue between civilisations, representing the continuity of traditions and an aversion to western “progress” and economism.
Ronni cultivates what André Breton called eyes that exist in a savage state; the first step towards maintaining this savage state is the denial of social “reality”; in this denial, the everyday structure is not lessened or endangered, but is redefined in such a way that it seems linked to a cartoon fairy tale.
Ronni gets involved with his material in ways that disregard possible consequences. The artist avoids the medium, passing from perception to representation, since his work is a direct expression of the world; this means that the usual distinction between form and content is destroyed, which in turn gives his work a natural and temporal quality that implies no separation from the natural world.
The turtle may seem to be an obscure and non-descript reptile, but in reality it is the stuff of legends and myths. Many of us are familiar with the Indian myth proclaiming the world to be carried by four elephants and the elephants in turn being suppported by a giant turtle: the cosmic turtle. In Chinese myth, the turtle is one of the four holy symbols while North American myth declares that it was actually built on the back of a turtle and is therefore known as Turtle Island. Despite their legendary significance, the plight of these mighty and remarkable creatures today is sad indeed.
Each year, thousands of turtles around the world are falling prey to human negligence. Ever encroaching human habitations and offshore activities are hampering turtle growth in the coastal areas of our country (primarily in Cox’s Bazar, the world’s longest natural sandy sea beach). The natural hatching of turtle eggs is being disrupted in the process and local people are not aware of this extermination. To create consciousness regarding this critical issue, Mermaid Eco Concern undertook the initiative to construct the world’s biggest permanent turtle sculptural installation and artist Ronni Ahmmed took on the task of builing the turtle: Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth.
The turtle sculpture is 18 feet in height, 35 feet in width, and 57 feet in length- the enormity of these dimensions assert it to be largest turtle sculpture to be ever constructed. The sculpture is located at Mermaid Beach, Pechar Dwip, Cox’s Bazaar. The main body of the sculpture is a dome with six round windows featuring two doors large enough for human entrance. There are several motifs of religious and spiritual symbols painted on the turtle’s back. A huge mural with hundreds of motifs of turtle myths and stories from around the world is painted on the inner surface of the dome as well. Mural inside the dome contains several turtle myth around the world like North American myth that North America was built on a turtle back, so it is called Turtle Island.
Painting from inside the Turtle, Ronni Ahmed

Painting from inside the Turtle, Ronni Ahmed

Painting from inside the Turtle, Ronni Ahmed

Painting from inside the Turtle, Ronni Ahmed

Indian myth like world is carried by four elephants and the elephant is carried by a giant turtle, and another Indian myth of Shomudra Mounthon where Gods and Giants are churning the ocean to collect amrita (celestial juice for immortality).They used a mountain as a grinding device and a great snake as a rotating device. The mountain peak was supported by a giant turtle while they were churning the ocean Devi Laksmi came out, and also the most deadly poison Kulkut came out and the magical horse, cow and elephant also the result of churning.
In Aborigine myth, hundreds of turtle carrying the earth on their back while there was a great flood. In Chinese myth, Turtle is one of the four holy symbols of Chinese myth, which are white tiger, dragon, phoenix (the fire bird), turtle entangled by a snake and these are four creature guards for four sides (i.e. east, west, north, and south).Also the great book of china the “I Ching” was written by a Chinese emperor when he discovered the Turtle back is designed in a oracle.
Along with myth there are also motifs from Alice in Wonderland, a twist with Da Vinci’s last supper, comic character Ninja Turtle, Turtle shape Volkswagen, fables and proverbs, Eshop fable like race of the turtle and rabbit, turtle and eagle etc. There are several motifs of religious and spiritual symbol painted on the turtle back drawings.The mural contains myths, politics, science and fantasy.  The theme of the mural includes myths, politics, science and fantasy. The concrete structure and turtle skin are decorated with looking glass, glass, stainless steel as well as part of shoes, lighters, shells, fish bones and other items salvaged from the sea beach.
Banner from the exhibition, Lido,Venice

Banner from the exhibition, Lido,Venice

Ronni recently showcased his concept banner featuring “Cosmic Turtle Visiting Green Earth”. International Exhibition of Sculptures and Installations, curated by Ebadur Rahman, a Paris based international curator and writer. This exhibitition is one of the most prestigious art events in Europe and organized in collaboration with the Department of Culture of the Venice City Council, was sponsored by Mermaid Art Foundation with intent of Turtle conservation. Through their concerted initiative, Bangladesh has been able to contribute to the global conservation of turtles, emphasizing the significance of preventing these amazing creatures from becoming extinct and preserving them for the betterment of future generations. Now is the era of celebrating Bangladesh’s achievements, big or small, on the international platform.
Tomb of Karacoz, Ronni Ahmed

Tomb of Karacoz, Ronni Ahmed

“Tomb Of Karacoz” most famous installation by Ronni Ahmed which presented in 14 Venice Festival of Art 2011. This is a huge installation, on display alongside works of renowned artists, like Marc Quinn and 30 others from all over the world.
The interesting element of Ronnie’s work is that he executed an architectural concept with bio-degradable material — to create a new reality and narrative that combines Venetian and South Asian stories. It is called ‘The Tomb of Karacos’.
The installation has been done with eggs and the pyramid is huge — five meters tall. ‘Karacos’ is a myth. Salman Rushdie wrote a book, ‘The Enchantress of Florence’. The heroine is a young, beautiful Mughal princess — in the Florentine court of the Medicis — during the High Renaissance period. At this time Akbar was the emperor of India. The typical oriental narrative is intermingled with Renaissance narrative. Ronnie has been exploring this myth for a while. Karacos is like a deity for outsiders. The installation features hundreds of hand-painted eggs, and everyone seems to be impressed with it. Even for the western audience it’s something novel, something revolutionary.
In the last few years, says Ronnie Ahmed, “I’ve been exploring ideas through sculptures and paintings.” He wanted a bigger perspective, he says, than the ones seen at Alliance Francaise and Bengal Gallery. He says that the size of the canvas does matter; the artist likes big images and large canvases. In his latest installation one sees 1251 painted eggs in drinking glasses. The red flag on top is to heighten the effect. “I always try to avoid the conventional language — using potatoes for instance, to represent human faces,” says Ronnie.
Ronni’s curator Ebadur Rahman says, “I think that he [Ronnie] represents a different reality. He is working on a myth. He’s dealing with a series of lies. He’s searching for the truth, which is invisible to the conventional eye. Conventional language cannot express the truth that an artist is searching for. The lies throw light on the interior truth, which is not readily visible to the eye.”
Painted egg in the glass, from Tomb of Karacoz

Painted egg in the glass, from Tomb of Karacoz
The Tomb of Qara Köz recalls the campaign from womb to the tomb, from maternal matrix to the entropic decay and death-at tangents and accords with transformative desire-of the Mughal princess Qara Köz who exerted powerful influence in the Florence of the Medici.

The Tomb is organized in three plans: the multifarious narrative of Qara Köz established in the collective imagination, by Salman Rushdie’s The Encantess of Florence and by the films Mughal-e-Azam (1960) and Jodha Akbar (2008) is (trans) located between realities in form of a per formative architecture to activate an open network-and commons of emotion and memory-of Bengali (illegal) immigrants who re impacting the psycho geographical tapestry of New York; 2nd plane, springing from the shifting layer of associations-e.g. the main body of the pyramid consisting of 1254 glasses recalls Calvino’s Marco Polo-invoking the tales of fluid invisible cities; the cartoonish drawings on each egg employ fragments of Jacopo Bassano, Veronese, Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Farinati to raconteur the tale of Robert Coover’s Pinocchio’s adventures , Thomas Mann’s Aschenbach in search of purity , Mahler reading Li Tai-Po …
The Tomb’s 3rd plane pays homage to Ai Weiwei’s Documenta 12’s project, Fairytale, and invites 101 Bengalis and records/transmits their secret desires as these new immigrants pay alms and prays to the Tomb of Qara Köz to make their wishes to come true.
The Tomb of Qara Köz, in an uninhibited polyphenomenality of display, evidences lived live(s)–in transformation, in polyphony; its synthetic/synergetic approach, rooted in Opera Apart-like traditional Bengali theater, attempts to stage a conceptual muse en abysm.
Terrorism in Other Planet, Ronni Ahmed

Terrorism in Other Planet, Ronni Ahmed

Ronni Ahmmed’s installation work certainly is satirical which in one glance makes us laugh. Yet, we can catch the message he wants to deliver behind his humorous appearance. His work represents a seminar conducted by Goerge Bush, Stephen Hawkings, Gandhi, Saddam Hossain and Murgi Milon (a famous terrorist of Bangladesh). Interestingly enough, among the audience we find from Lady Gaga to Rabindranath Tagore, Harry Potter to Gautama Buddha. When we look at the banner the cliché of the whole situation makes us burst into laughter. It says’ YOUR PROPERTY, OUR RESPONSIBILITY. Are you feeling insecure? Looking for a trained security guard? We provide you the best one.’ You won’t miss the vegetables lying on the chairs, as if representing each person. How amusing it is to see a lemon representing Mahatma Gandhi or a coli flower depicting Lady Gaga!
Ronny has created an imaginary meeting of war lords like W Bush, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hossain, Murgi Milan, Alexander the Great and even iconic film character James Bond through a table surrounded by chairs. Different types of vegetables used on each of the chairs give food for thought of the viewers. He expresses his work as the ‘post modern interpretation of post modern cannibalism’.  We live in a controversial society where the protector becomes predator, where we play ignorant to certain situations.  Don’t we all know how terrorists are created, why they are marketed to the world? Who are actually the terrorists? The ones who are tagged by capitalist media or the ones we happen to recognize as the leaders? Terrorism in other planets reflects what the world has turned into and what it will become.
Ronni Ahmed born in 1971, Dhaka.
Ronni Ahmmed is an absurdist with a penchant for articulating the social-political realities in hyperboles. Four consecutive solo exhibitions – the first, ‘Untitled’, in 2002 and the second, ‘Mythoronnia’ in 2004, both at Alliance Francaise, Dhaka; ‘Archaeology of Noah’s Ark’, in 2005, in Dhaka and Chittagong, at respective galleries of Alliance Francaise, and lastly, ‘Tales of Pseudo Myth’, at Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts in 2006, Dhaka, were testimony to his outré sensibilities. The Bengal show was a turning point for this young artist, as it brought into view his ability to redefine his own aesthetic strategies subjecting his imagery to extreme manipulations. In terms of the changes that his imagery went through, his politically charged images have been slowly replaced by poetical ones, as is evident in his 100-foot long ‘Archaeology of Noah’s Ark’, which caused quite a stir in the Bangladeshi art scene due to the fact that it aligned the popular with the mythical with an spontaneity that breaches the established notion of the dichotomous relation between high and low art. His ‘Tomb of Kara Qoez’,  showcased in Venice, at OPEN 24, curated by Paolo De Grandis, co-curated by Carlotta Scarpa, organized by Arte Communications, in collaboration with the Department of Culture of the Venice City Council.
His other important shows are–
 2004   – Illustration Workshop and Exhibition/ Tian Keu/ Alliance Francaise, Dhaka
 – Performing Art workshop by Britto
 – Alternative Art/ Gallery Chitrak, Dhaka
 – Collage-Kalo Workshop/ Bengal Foundation
 – Mythoronnia – 2nd Solo exhibition/ Alliance Francaise, Dhaka
 – Group Show/ Britto, Yangon
2003    – ‘Latitude/Longitude’ Informal Art Exhibition, Dhaka
 – Tokyo International Mini Print Triennial
2002    – 1st Solo exhibition, Alliance Francaise, Dhaka
1999    – Rickshaw Painting Exhibition, German Embassy, Dhaka
1998    – Group Show at National Museum Gallery
And     – Annual and other group shows at Zainul Gallery

Preema Nazia Andalib

Nazia Andaleeb Preema’s yearning to create beauty all around her is apparent in her creations. Contemporary art now embrace an extensive range of media, composition and themes and Preema has been playfully experimenting and working with contemporary art for last fifteen years. She has successfully integrated technology into art in the form of video art, digital art, and installation and even into web designing and graphic designing. A harmonious synchronization and integration of art and technology is evident in many of her work.
To her work is an opportunity to release her trauma and depression. Her artwork brings her to life and gives her the joy of possessing something that is completely her own. The main theme of her work is women. She shatters them, then recreates them and modifies them into diverse forms. The point of all her effort is to search for the inner strength, spirit and capability of woman.
 ‘We have a very secular yet contradictory social system,’ says Preema. Indeed our society is equally influenced by the vibrant Hindu culture as well as the conservative Muslim culture and ways. She wants to bring this combination into her work. Most art works nowadays is contemporary art, but she pledges others not to imitate. ‘We must create something contemporary on our context, depicting ourselves,’ emphasizes Preema.
Two of her popular video arts include ‘Marry my egg’ and ‘And the stare continues’. 
Marry My Egg, Video Work (2.52sec), Preema Nazia Andaleeb

Marry My Egg, Video Work (2.52sec), Preema Nazia Andaleeb

In Marry my egg, Preema tries to depict the domination and suppression that a woman faces at different stages of her life. In the video a woman (Preema) sitting on a chair with a plate full of pouched eggs, dressed in a very festive bridal red saree and golden jewelry. The prolific artist Nazia Andaleeb Preema was presenting cutting edge video installation and performing her act “Marry my egg” which is a metaphor for women and their fertility. Visitors were curious by this unexpected and extraordinary act by the artist dressed as a Traditional Bengali bride. The artist uses food to refer to consumption, fertility, power, and sexuality. She has engaged audiences with her innovative performance art, video work and paintings. The thought provoking act described women in our society of being judged by the fertility as they are growing older. They are being challenged by their fertility and are pressured to get married within a particular age. The artist is getting back to society to make them realize that she would rather eat up all her own eggs and celebrate her own marriage and fertility. This sarcastic act has drawn visitors interest toward the artwork as not only just a wall mounted art rather a creative expression that depicts the underlying social traditions to explain a situation and taking a valid stand on the subject. This act was performed alongside video projection and installation. The Installation titled was “Fertility Partition” with transparent plastic paper and egg shells which were hanging from the wall to the ground supporting the video.
And Stare Continues, Video Work, Preema Nazia Andaleeb

And Stare Continues, Video Work, Preema Nazia Andaleeb

In the stare continues, Preema keeps on blowing balloons after balloons with her veiled face and though she looks haggard and exhausted, she never stops until she has thousands of colorful balloons around her. It depicts the endless endeavor of women to keep everyone around her happy, forgetting about herself.
Conversation with Light, Nazia Andaleeb Preema Performance, Photo Installation and Video Projection (5 mins, 2011)

Conversation with Light, Nazia Andaleeb Preema Performance, Photo Installation and Video Projection (5 mins, 2011)

In Dhaka Art Summit, 2011 Preema present her work Conversation with Light. Her statement about this work,
 “I am not concern about art. It’s about seeing and knowing light. As a young girl I discovered amazing power in a small flashlight. Turning it on at night, I saw a large lighted spot wherever I pointed it. My excitement increased when shining the flashlight inside a dusty barn. A cone of light was projected through the air. But the most interesting discovery came when I pressed the flashlight firmly against the palm of my hand. My entire hand glowed in the dark. The light was actually within me! To observe the physical properties of light can be exciting, but discovering the properties of spiritual light and truth is even more awe inspiring and essential.
I started connecting with the glow and it starts dancing with me. It gave me enormous power to feel the rhythm around me. Now I am convinced even darkness contain light.
There has been light from the beginning. There will be light, feebly, at the end.” 
As a full time artist, Preema has had the opportunity to travel all over the world and received a number of international grants for art residencies and workshops. She has participated in over fifty prestigious group expositions round the world (India, Nepal, Thailand, Srilanka, Japan, Canada, and USA) including five Asian Art Biennale, Tashkand biennale, Istanbul Biennale (2008) and has to her credit 14 successful solo exhibitions at home and abroad (USA(2006/2011), UK(2009/2010), Morocco(2011), France(2011), India(2006/2008), Turkey(2008), Canada(2009), Pakistan(2008), Thailand(2008) and Japan(2003) along with a virtual exposition of her work ( in 2003. Her international expositions in leading galleries has not only presented the diverse works but also represented the new Bangladesh in its true essence. She also has participated in a number of International Workshops and Residencies in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, U.S.A., Japan, Singapore, UK, Istanbul, Pakistan, Taiwan and Bangladesh. Her video art (“Marry my egg”, “Monajat” and “And Stare continues” which illustrate social awareness about the trials and tribulations of the Bengali Muslim woman) recently took part in International Art Expo in Venice in 2012, Cite International des Art in Paris, National Theatre Festival in Morocco and Asian Art Biennale.

Rafiqul Alam Shuvo

Md Rafiqul Islam Shuvo (born 1982) is a sculptor turned painter and multimedia artist. As in the new millennium, the postmodern as well as post conceptual genres of the West began to exert their influence on artists across the world; many a young artist had to reposition themselves to be in tandem with the cotemporary developments. But for some it occasioned parallel thinking as they felt a strong need to take into cognizance the advancing art movements of the West but were also determined not to renounce the politics of location. Shuvo can be aligned with the latter group of artists because of his tendency to work from within the perimeter of modern-day problematic related to human existence in an ever-changing political society.
This twenty-plus artist first drew the attention of his teachers and fellow students at the Institute of Fine Arts (now, Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University), displaying a tendency to cast his position through a cosmic understanding of the world. Though in his initial efforts visuality ruled over all other aesthetic -political considerations, but what they also used to elicit is the eagerness to relate to the rhythm of his life-experiences. With intermittent spurts of creativity – which resulted in various phases, while dealing with sculptural and the painterly, especially in his two-dimensional works, there emerged an artist whose all-over paintings gave way to works based on anthropomorphic forms.
If religiosity helped him to navigate through subject matter such as primal existential condition of the embryo in the womb and in turn helped him to understand life as a gift from the Unknown, his inquiry into the social sphere they finally inhabit as they grow into full-blown humans lodged him on an entirely different terrain. In 2006, Shuvo began to organize his thoughts along materialistic interpretations of life in a given social environment and the result was an abrasive artistic diction that trashed the sanguine view of life preferred by Dhaka cognoscenti.
In the subsequent years his no-hold-barred attitude led to some important installations and video presentations. His entry at the 13th Asian Biennale suggested a shift in his stance vis-à-vis his aesthetic experimentations as he introduced manufactured object such as a series of low-priced mirrors – placed in grid – to address identity and human condition with the playfulness he never before achieved.
That he strives to reposition himself and rethink his visual and tactical strategies time and again bears down on his sinuous journey of the last ten years that has so far helped him to get an upper hand over his contemporaries working to subvert established norms. Perhaps his one-year stint (2007) in Pakistan, at Beacon House National University, where he was a student of video art, has also fuelled his passion for the outré and the unconventional. And the fact that he was one the favorite students of Rashid Rana, who took him in his class following admission, also helped him to continuously redefine his own territory.
World Photography, Rafiqul Shuvo

World Photography, Rafiqul Shuvo

An interest thrives on a multiplicity of references, and in Shuvo’s hand it takes a form which is so generously framed that the entire work relies on his own takes on other well-established works of photography. His current project thus is an intentional reconstruction of a book. Titled World Photography, the said book is his subject matter, the primary source for his examination of the issue of individual expression, isolation of the creative act, and, most importantly, the artistic and legal implications of copyright. As he records the book in its entirety photographing page by page, Shuvo calls his process ‘wholesale appropriation’, which, in the end, produces the book’s pages in his own terms – in the formation of pictures in haphazard composition. And the result is decontextualisation, not at all a good likeness.
Nonjudgmental and playful in its stance, the work results from a random scanning of the visual language of our age.  The artist draws an analogy, “it is like an attempt to get to the top floor of a building setting a regular pace, stepping on every stair on the way.” It is a slow ascent to a place from where Shuvo throws open the issue for debate as he examines the very foundation of the claim to copyrights, which are subject to infringement as artistic actions similar to his own begins to interrogate it. The most fragile construction, in the end, seems to be about rights.
Curatorship or curator was not as prominent in the context of Bangladesh art field. Mostly it arranged by gallery or some group of artist or one artist take the artist and exhibits their artwork. So young artists are always struggle for their space or their theme.
In this perspective Shuvo recently create a group called OGMJ (Only God Can Judge Me), where Shuvo as a curator and an artist. Inspired from Joseph Beyus and Marchel Duchamp he choose mostly the young artist and who are conceptually young their artwork. In his curatorial note his statement was “Everybody is an artist, so let’s God be the judge of every artwork. The issues that this declaration brings into view is linked with how art is given legitimacy through certain knowledge and how it occupies a certain niche and exists in a particular social context as art; also how the structures of society such as politics, education, and other social-political contents interface with such issues, impacting the nature of artistic production. The show is a continuum of insider and outsider takes on art and other related issues and its presentation is made possible through a diagram defined by notions of interactivity. It’s an amassing of process based artistic/textual actions to see how art and artist’s role keep changing in a given social environment.”
In an interview Shuvo told about the logic behind OGCJM- “from my perspective, I thought we would go beyond all existing structures, I wanted to explore the possibility of the freedom that the artists may enjoy after all the structures will never allow the creative footprint OGCJM envisaged to have left behind from the start, the same can’t be done, will never occur, under condition the galleries have created over these years.
As for the philosophical framework I personally believe that there is art in everything and everybody is an artist. Therefore I kept it open to many, many things which different context, will not be considered art.
We give up the categories such as senior/junior, academic/non academic, we are habituate to judge art using their categories. I wanted to preclude such mainstream framework which still governs the Bangladesh art scence.”

Suffocation, work by OGCJM artist
Suffocation, work by OGCJM artist


Suffocation, work by OGCJM artist

Suffocation, work by OGCJM artist

Artist concept about the work
Chair is a very interesting element in the society which means positions. Our society is always running towards chairs to get it where education and hard works have no place, it is workless. We are having collapse social system where everything goes workless at the end. As I  live in this society me and my education, time, hard work, future plans , destination, my willing power all have gone collapsed by the fail systems of my society. I am not having any appropriate answer to any question. Like my society I am also suffocated.


When I go to interview the artists, the most interesting thing is that any of them classify their work as a new media. For some artist to state their work as a new media create a kind of misunderstanding. They prefer to label their work as new trend or cutting age tendency. New media itself is a controversial word because in this modern era every time media is changing.
Bangladesh new media art have the same tools as the rest of the world, but they can’t develop as much because of the unstable socio political context, religious movement and lack of internet facilities.
I particularly choose five artists because Mahbubur Rahman and Tyeba Begum Lipi are the founder member of Britto Art Trust and they are the first couple in Bangladesh that start new media as a genre.
 Ronni Ahmed work with mythological subject with a political statement which I have personal interest.
Preema Nazia Andalled is working with feminine subject matter where she comes through lots of obstacle.
Shuvo Rafiqul is almost new and starts alone new ideology of curatorship in Bangladesh which approximately gives young generation new idea about art.
When I start the dissertation the problem I face was the lack of any essay – documentation or book about Bangladesh new media art. The artist interview by me or others was my main source of the dissertation, and then I took help from various exhibition catalogue, magazine and internet. May be this is first time Bangladesh new media art come together in one folder.

By Shaswati Mazumder

Arts and crafts, Asiatic society of Bangladesh
Volume: 8
Consecutive Britto workshops among adibaashi people
Depart 3rd issue
TAYEBA BEGUM LIPI: Catacomb of life
Depart 3rd Issue
Afflicting the myths with radical interfacing:
Re-examining semioticity through Ronni Ahmmed’s spaced-out odyssey
Depart 5th Issue
Bangladesh in Venice
Depart 5th issue
Making the right noise! Unpacking Longitude Latitude 4
by Ebadur Rahman
Depart 6th Issue
Asian art archaieve
An Avant-garde Artist by Fayza Haq
 Star Weekend Magazine, 25/2/11
A Trans cultural Perspective on Contemporary Art in Bangladesh – Agents, Localities and   Networks
Lipi’s bold installation hits international art scene Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Preview | Eastern promises
Bangladesh at the centre stage of this year’s India Art Fair is a sign that collectors globally are looking East
Shreya Ray Fri, Jan 25 2013
South Asia becoming global art hub: Dhaka promoter
Tayeba Begum Lipi
Pallavi Pundir | Friday, February 01, 2013
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Bangladesh Strives to be the New ‘India’ of Art
Britto Arts Trust
Dhaka, Bangladesh
14th Asian Art Biennale
Coursing through identity and image
South Asian art is political: Bangladeshi artist
Art/Culture India News Muslim World News
By Madhusree Chatterjee, IANS,
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Ronni’s Cosmic Turtle
Visiting Green Earth
Egged on by stories :Ronni Ahmmed in Venice
Ronnie Ahmed’s installation takes Europe by storm
Samdani first public event exhibition in Venice city
Senses: 7 Terrorism in other planets by Artist Ronni Ahmmed
The Flowering of Art on the Lido di Venezia
By Edward Rubin.
Bangladesh Emerges as the new South-Asian art hub?
by Tasnima Haque Orin
Bangladesh shines in the City of Light
Wednesday, May 18, 2011, 1991-2013
Bangladeshi artists taking part in Art Asia Miami
Wednesday, December 5, 2012, 1991-2013.
Moving Images 9,
A testament to the Bangladeshi art revolution
Friday, October 7, 2011, 1991-2013
Nazia Andaleeb
The tale of a tech savvy artist
By Tazkia Tarannum
Returning the Male Gaze:The 12th solo painting exhibition ofNazia Andaleeb preema
By Syed Manzoorul Islam
Copyright vs Fragility – Chobi Mela VII – 2013
By Raqul Shuvo
Chobi Mela VII International Festival of Photography
Disambiguatingthe languageof subversion:Shuvo’s manifold intervention
Depart Magazine, 4th issue
Chobimela vii Catalouge
Logic behind OGCJM
Rafiqul Shuvo interview by Ebadur Rahman
Mahbubur Rahman, City Crisis
Catalouge published for show ( Dhaka 197)

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