Alserkal Avenue collaborates with the Samdani Art Foundation on Fabric(ated) Fractures, opening March 2019 at Concrete
9-23 March 2019
Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
Alserkal Avenue will collaborate with the Samdani Art Foundation on Fabric(ated) Fractures, an exhibition set to open at Concrete, Dubai in March 2019. The group exhibition will feature 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 9-23 March 2019, Fabric(ated) Fractures will provide a platform to amplify the voices of artists from Bangladesh and South and Southeast Asia, and will build 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 will also introduce new works from artists with a connection to Bangladesh.
Alserkal Avenue and the Samdani Art Foundation both champion homegrown talent in their respective regions, and this exhibition will further highlight 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 will help highlight Bangladesh and the artists related to it. This collaboration serves as a bridge to Dhaka Art Summit 2020, which shifts its focus to explore Bengal’s position at the crossroads of historical exchange between Africa and Asia.
Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, Founder of Alserkal Avenue, says: “The contribution of the Samdani Art Foundation in creating a space for dialogue about the history and artistic practice in Bangladesh and South Asia is invaluable. This collaboration with the Samdani Art Foundation is a natural extension of Alserkal Avenue’s mandate to support regional talent and will strengthen our shared arts ecosystem.”
The Samdani Art Foundation, a private art foundation based in Dhaka, Bangladesh, was founded in 2011 by Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani to support the work of the country’s contemporary artists and architects. “We are delighted to be collaborating with Alserkal Avenue to bring further awareness of Bangladeshi and South Asian art and culture to Dubai - a place that is home to many people from our part of the world, and which serves as a connecting hub to the rest of the world. As we seek to form a new institution outside of Western paradigms – it is important for us to collaborate with our neighbours in the region and it is an honour for us to be partnering with Concrete as the venue for this exhibition,” said Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani.
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) Fracturesrespond 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 Deshmeans 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. This exhibition aims 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 artists in this 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. 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.
“Two years on from Concrete’s inauguration, I am heartened that we are expanding on Alserkal Avenue’s mandate and providing a platform to promote regional talent and create discourse around important artist-led issues. The work of the Dhaka Art Summit in amplifying the voices of artists from Bangladesh is a true testament to the patronage and leadership behind the Samdani Art Foundation. Building on their work in a space designed to host museum-grade exhibitions feels like a natural fit and I look forward to seeing our cultural collaboration come to life,” says Vilma Jurkute, Director of Alserkal Avenue.
Fabric(ated) Fractures is a collaboration between the Samdani Art Foundation and Alserkal Avenue at Concrete, Dubai.
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NOTES TO EDITORS
Located in Al Quoz, Dubai and established in 2007, Alserkal Avenue is the region’s foremost contemporary arts and culture neighbourhood. Alserkal Avenue hosts 16 contemporary art galleries and not-for-profit spaces and over 40 creative businesses, cultivating a vibrant community of visual and performing arts organisations, designers, and artisanal spaces that has become an essential platform for the development of the creative industries in the United Arab Emirates.
In March 2017, Alserkal Avenue opened Concrete, the first building to be completed in the UAE by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, Rem Koolhaas. Concrete provides a flexible, multipurpose venue for international arts and culture initiatives ranging from performances, to exhibitions, lectures and various other public events.
In Fall 2017, Alserkal Avenue launched the first artists’ residency on the Avenue, further enhancing the organisation’s commitment to cultivating artistic talent. Located in Alserkal Avenue, Alserkal Residency runs three cycles over the course of the year and is open to emerging and mid-career artists with an emphasis on socially engaged and research-based practices, in addition to curators, writers and researchers working in related disciplines. At the intersection of art, culture and commerce, Alserkal Avenue is a driving force that brings the community of Dubai together to support and encourage a creative economy.
A multi-disciplinary space conceptualised by Alserkal Avenue, Concrete is the first building in the UAE to be completed by the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), founded by Rem Koolhaas. Located in Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, Concrete is an adaptable venue whose ability to metamorphose to bring creative visions to life makes it suitable for international, museum-grade exhibitions as well as events across art, design, fashion and the performing arts.
Samdani Art Foundation
The Samdani Art Foundation (SAF) is a private arts trust based in Dhaka, Bangladesh founded in 2011 by collector couple Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani to support the work of the country’s contemporary artists and architects. Led by Artistic Director and Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, SAF seeks to expand the audience engaging with contemporary art across Bangladesh and increase international exposure for the country’s artists. Its programmes support Bangladeshi artists in broadening their creative horizons through production grants, residencies, education programs, and exhibitions. To achieve this, SAF collaborates with the Bangladeshi government through official partnerships with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
SAF produces the bi-annual Dhaka Art Summit, 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. SAF’s collection of modern and contemporary art from South Asia, as part of its commitment to increasing international engagement with Bangladeshi and South Asian artists’ work, is lent to institutions and festivals around the globe. The collection is currently based at Golpo, the Samdani Art Foundation’s residence in Gulshan, Dhaka, and is open to the public by appointment.
Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal
Abdelmonem Alserkal is the driving force behind Alserkal Avenue, a cultural destination that houses the most prominent contemporary art galleries in the region. In 2015, he launched Alserkal Programming, the not-for-profit arm of Alserkal Avenue, which supports locally-based and international artists through commissions and public programmes. As a natural extension of the programming arm, he established Alserkal Residency in early 2017. The Residency is designed to give artists, writers, curators, and researchers the opportunity to critically reflect on and experiment with their practice within the context of Dubai.
In 2016, Abdelmonem commissioned Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), which was founded by Pritzker Prize-winner Rem Koolhaas, to design Concrete, a space for alternative programmes and museum-grade exhibitions. Concrete is the first building to be completed in the UAE by the renowned architecture practice.
Featured in Surface magazine's 2016 Power 100, he serves on numerous boards of institutions around the world, including the British Museum's Contemporary and Modern Middle Eastern Art Acquisition Group; the Tate's Middle East and North Africa Acquisition Committee; and the Guggenheim's Middle Eastern Circle. Abdelmonem and the Alserkal family have long been supporters of the arts and have been awarded the Patron of the Arts award twice, in 2012 and 2013, by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Vilma Jurkute, Director, Alserkal Avenue
With a degree in International Business from Grenoble Graduate School of Business, Vilma has spent the last decade developing creative industries across New York, Chicago, London and Dubai. She joined Alserkal Avenue in 2011 and in her time with the organisation, she has been instrumental in its evolution and responsible for overseeing the Avenue’s physical expansion in 2015 as well as the inauguration of Concrete in 2017. Vilma also launched Alserkal Programming in 2015, and Alserkal Residency in 2017, affirming the organisation’s commitment to the development of arts and culture in the region. She has been a vocal supporter of growing a creative economy, and a strong advocate for its importance in social development and identity within the MENASA region. Vilma serves on the advisory boards of the Global Cultural Districts Network and the Jean-Paul Najar Foundation. Vilma is currently pursuing an Executive MSc in Sustainable Urban Development at the University of Oxford, UK.
Samdani Art Foundation
Nadia Samdani is the Co-Founder and President of the Samdani Art Foundation and Director of the Dhaka Art Summit. In 2011, with husband Rajeeb Samdani, she established the Samdani Art Foundation to support the work of Bangladesh and South Asia’s contemporary artists and architects and to increase their international exposure. As part of this initiative, she founded the Dhaka Art Summit, which has since completed four successful editions, between 2012 and 2018, under her leadership. Nadia is a member of Tate’s South Asia Acquisitions Committee, Tate's International Council, Art Dubai’s Advisory Council, Alserkal Avenue’s Programming Committee, Parasol Unit’s International Committee and one of the founding members of The Harvard University Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute’s Arts Advisory Council. In 2017, with her husband Rajeeb, she was the first South Asian arts patron to receive the prestigious Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.
A second-generation collector, Nadia began her own collection at the age of 22. She collects both Bangladeshi and international art, reflecting her experience as both a proud Bangladeshi and a global citizen. She has written about collecting for Art Asia Pacific, leading business and financial daily Live Mint, and has spoken about collecting at many international art fairs. Along with her husband, Nadia has been named in ArtnewsTop 200 Collectors list in 2015, 2016 and 2017, included in ArtReview’s Power 100 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and ArtNet NewsWorld's Top 100 Art Collectors in 2016. Their collection is regularly lent to institutions and festivals around the globe, including: documenta14 (2017); Shanghai Biennale (2017); Office for Contemporary Art, Norway (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015); Kunstsammlung Nordhrhein, Düsseldorf (2015); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2014). In 2018, works will be lent to Parasite, Hong Kong; the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and in 2019, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
Rajeeb Samdani is the Co-Founder and Trustee of the Samdani Art Foundation, Chairman of Gulf International Finance Limited, UAE, and Managing Director of Golden Harvest Group—one of the leading diversified conglomerates in Bangladesh, involved in several sectors including: food processing, dairy, commodities, logistics, information technology, real estate, aviation, insurance and banking. In addition to his philanthropy with art, Rajeeb is the Secretary General of the Bangladesh Human Rights Foundation (one of the largest Human Rights organisations in the country), Founder of the Taher Ahmed Chowdhury Charitable Hospital in Sylhet, and the Alvina Samdani Trust.
An ardent collector of contemporary art, Rajeeb first began collecting with his wife Nadia Samdani, with whom he established the Samdani Art Foundation in 2011. Along with his wife, Rajeeb has been named in ArtnewsTop 200 Collectors list in 2015, 2016 and 2017, included in ArtReview’s Power 100 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and ArtNet NewsWorld's Top 100 Art Collectors in 2016. Their collection is regularly lent to institutions and festivals around the globe, including: documenta14 (2017); Shanghai Biennale (2017); Office for Contemporary Art, Norway (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2015); Kunstsammlung Nordhrhein, Düsseldorf (2015); Gwangju Biennale, South Korea (2014); Kochi-Muziris Biennale, India (2014); and has been featured in many leading international publications. In 2018, works will be lent to Parasite, Hong Kong; the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; and in 2019, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Rajeeb is a founding member and Co-Chair of Tate’s South Asian Acquisitions Committee, a member of Tate's International Council, Art Dubai’s Advisory Council, Alserkal Avenue’s Programming Committee, and one of the founding members of The Harvard University Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute’s Arts Advisory Council. In 2017, with his wife Nadia, he was the first South Asian arts patron to receive the prestigious Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award.
Diana Campbell Betancourt
Diana Campbell Betancourt is a Princeton educated American curator who has been working in South and Southeast Asia since 2010 - primarily in India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines - and is now based between Brussels and Dhaka. Since 2013, she has served as the Founding Artistic Director of the Samdani Art Foundation and Chief Curator of the Dhaka Art Summit, leading the critically acclaimed 2014, 2016, and 2018 editions. Campbell has developed the Dhaka Art Summit into a leading research and exhibitions platform for art from South Asia, bringing together artists, architects, curators, and writers from across South Asia through a largely commission based model where new work and exhibitions are born in Bangladesh, and has realised significant projects with artists such as Raqib Shaw (co-curated with Maria Balshaw), Tino Seghal, Lynda Benglis, Raqs Media Collective, Shahzia Sikander, Shilpa Gupta, Haroon Mirza, and many others through this unique platform. In addition to her exhibitions making practice, Campbell is responsible for developing the Samdani Art Foundation collection and drives its international collaborations ahead of opening the foundation’s permanent home, Srihatta - Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park, opening in Sylhet in early 2019.
Concurrent to her work in Bangladesh from June 2016-June 2018, Campbell Betancourt was also the Founding Artistic Director of Bellas Artes Projects in the Philippines, a non-profit international residency and exhibition programme with sites in Manila and Bataan where she curated Bruce Conner’s first major solo exhibition in Asia as well exhibitions of new work by artists such as Pawel Althamer, Cian Dayrit, Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan, among others. She remains an advisor to Bellas Artes Projects, and she chairs the board of the Mumbai Art Room, one of India’s leading non-profit spaces. In 2018, she was appointed curator of Frieze Projects in London. Her writing has been published by Mousse, Frieze, Art in America, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) among others.