Fabric(ated) Fractures, a collaboration between the Samdani Art Foundation and Alserkal, opens in Concrete
9-30 March 2019
Concrete, Alserkal Avenue, Dubai
Dubai, 10 March 2019 – Fabric(ated) Fractures, a collaboration between the Samdani Art Foundation and Alserkal, opened in Concrete on 9 March, with performances by exhibiting artists Ayesha Jatoi, Joydeb Roaja, and Reetu Sattar. The group exhibition, curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, Samdani Art Foundation Artistic Director and Chief Curator of Dhaka Art Summit, features works by 15 artists: Pablo Bartholomew, Kanak Chanpa Chakma, Rashid Choudhury, Rajesh Vangad and Gauri Gill, Shilpa Gupta, Hitman Gurung, Ayesha Jatoi, Ashfika Rahman, Joydeb Roaja, Reetu Sattar, Kamruzzaman Shadhin, Debasish Shom, Jakkai Siributr, and Munem Wasif.
On show until 30 March 2019 in the OMA-designed Concrete in Alserkal Avenue, Fabric(ated) Fractures provides a platform to amplify the voices of artists from Bangladesh and South and Southeast Asia, and explores ‘sensitive spaces’—spaces that challenge ideas of nation, state, and territory. The exhibition design intervenes in the architecture of Concrete, spanning its height with community-based artworks that are humanist acts of insurgency against rising polarisation in the region (and the rest of the world), and grounding the exhibition in a more porous pre-colonial past through the use of a vernacular mud floor found in many South Asian villages.
Vilma Jurkute, Alserkal Director, says, “The opening of Fabric(ated) Fractures in Concrete brings a longstanding collaboration between Alserkal and the Samdani Art Foundation to life. This milestone exhibition builds on Alserkal’s mandate to support regional talent, as well as to further foster a growing South to South dialogue.”
“Dhaka Art Summit is a continuous exercise in challenging how the world sees Bangladesh and how Bangladesh sees itself,” says Diana Campbell Betancourt, Curator of the exhibition. “I’m delighted that we are able to extend this conversation through this project in Dubai, both through the exhibition as well as the powerful performance programme which puts the human at the centre of the exhibition through poetic artistic gestures by Ayesha Jatoi, Reetu Sattar, and Joydeb Roaja.”
While this exhibition was born within the borders of what is now considered Bangladesh, Fabric(ated) Fractures examines how the lines demarcating this young country are constantly shifting. The waters that move across Bangladesh’s edges are shared with India and Myanmar, flowing into wider border issues that extend into Thailand, Pakistan, and Nepal—the countries that the 15 artists in this exhibition come from. Their works break down reductive national and regional narratives, and reformulate them from a more local and human perspective. Regional lenses, including overarching headers such as ‘South Asia’ or ‘MENASA’, tend to filter out the many traces of difference found on a local level, and this exhibition aims to weave a more complex picture of the vibrant and diverse threads that comprise a yet-to-be crystalised identity in the wounded border areas related to Bangladesh—which cannot be defined with a single regional framing device.
The militarisation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts inspires the drawings of Joydeb Roaja, who comes from the indigenous Tripura community. The military motifs from the Generation Wish Yielding Trees and Atomic Tree series are reflected in his alpona installation in The Yard in Alserkal Avenue, which can be viewed throughout the duration of the exhibition. Through his work, Pablo Bartholomew traces the links between geographically fractured indigenous Chakma communities (ethnic minorities in Myanmar, India, and Bangladesh), weaving together science, myth, legend, and tradition to explore a cross-border ethnic identity in an installation comprised of photographs and woven textiles. The Bangladeshi Chakma artist Kanak Chanpa Chakma revisits the ‘Ramu Incident’ through her series of paintings, Soul Piercing, juxtaposing photographic documentation and newspaper clippings from the 2012 incident against imagery of peaceful Buddhist architecture.
Speaking to the potential found in seeing through multiple points of view, the late Rashid Choudhury’s majestic woven tapestries allude to village life in Bengal prior to externally introduced religious divides, and teem with movement, referencing pluralistic rituals of celebration and worship. Similarly, Rajesh Vangad and Gauri Gill’s Fields of Sight series bring to question the politics of landscape as the site through which trauma is registered, providing overlapping and varying perspectives onto the same landscape.
Hitman Gurung’s ongoing series This is My Home, My Land and My Country addresses the conflicted history between the Tharu indigenous community of the Terai region of Nepal and the government, and Ayesha Jatoi’s Residue, which the artist performed on opening night, explores a metaphorically burdened act in uncertain times of putting away the remnants of love, longing, and loss. Jatoi will perform the piece again on 18 March at 7.15PM at Concrete. Ashfika Rahman’s powerful portrait series, Rape is Political, depicts rape victims in the Khagrachari hills area, located at the militarised border between India, Bangladesh, and Myanmar, where state administrative machinery is used to protect rapists.
Reetu Sattar performed Harano Sur (Lost Tune) on opening night, a piece that focuses on the harmonium, a musical instrument that is tightly integrated into the traditional culture of Bangladesh, but is in danger of disappearing. A film documents a performance that brought together musicians, each playing three notes of the seven notes of the harmonium as part of the exhibition. The performance will take place again on 18 March at 7PM. Kamruzzaman Shadhin’s installation Haven is Elsewhere was created through a large-scale action: a year and a half spent exchanging the clothes of refugees at Bangladesh’s southern border with Southeast Asia for new garments. The refugees’ clothes were joined into a monumental piece of fabric embellished with traditional Bangladeshi kantha embroidery.
The Indian artist Shilpa Gupta’s work, which debuted at the 2014 Dhaka Art Summit, addresses chitmahals—former landlocked islands of India within Bangladesh, and Bangladesh within India— reflecting on the long-standing relationship between ‘illegal’ people and their ancestral land. Debasish Shom’s body of work, In the Rivers Dark, speaks to the fear of displacement and the desire to hold on to home, no matter how dark and dangerous the circumstances surrounding it are. Through his work The Outlaw’s Flag, Thai artist Jakkai Siributr provides a critical perspective on rising communal tensions and Buddhist-Muslim relations in South and Southeast Asia, which have become intensified by the mass movements of populations. Munem Wasif’s haunting series of black and white photographs of the blurred boundary of Bangladesh and India, Land of Undefined Territory, conceals the intense human interaction within its surface.
Public performance schedule:
18 March 2019
7PM | Reetu Sattar, Harano Sur (Lost Tune)
7.15PM | Ayesha Jatoi, Residue
Fabric(ated) Fractures is a collaboration between the Samdani Art Foundation and Alserkal at Concrete, Dubai.
Founded by Emirati businessman and patron, Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, in 2007, Alserkal is a socially responsible cultural enterprise, which is deeply engaged with the arts locally, regionally and internationally. Through Alserkal Avenue, its renowned cultural district of contemporary art galleries, non-profit organisations and homegrown businesses, Alserkal has cultivated a creative economy in Dubai, supporting cultural production and spearheading disruptive business models, including the OMA-designed Concrete, a state-of-the-art exhibitions and alternative space. In addition, Alserkal supports public art commissions, residencies, research grants and educational programmes through its non-profit, Alserkal Arts Foundation.
A multi-disciplinary space conceptualised by Alserkal, 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 bv 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 Asian, 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.
Vilma Jurkute, Director, Alserkal
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 in 2011 and in her time with the organisation, she has been instrumental in its evolution and responsible for overseeing Alserkal Avenue’s physical expansion in 2015. The same year, she launched Alserkal Programming, affirming the organisation’s commitment to the development of art and culture, positioning it as an arts organisation. Vilma 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.
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 Artnews Top 200 Collectors list in 2015, 2016 and 2017, included in ArtReview’s Power 100 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and ArtNet News World'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 Artnews Top 200 Collectors list in 2015, 2016 and 2017, included in ArtReview’s Power 100 in 2015, 2016 and 2017, and ArtNet News World'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.
(Image credit: Installation view of Fabric(ated) Fractures at Concrete, Alserkal Avenue. Courtesy the artists, Samdani Art Foundation and Alserkal. Photography: Musthafa Aboobacker)