Dhaka Art Summit 2016

5–8 February 2016
Samdani Art Foundation
Level 5, Suite 501 & 502
Shanta Western Tower
186 Gulshan- Tejgaon Road
Tejgaon 1/A, Dhaka -1208


“I came to understand place as a verb rather than a noun, which exists in our doings: walking, talking, living.”

Simryn Gill, Text from Full Moon, 2012

Curated by Samdani Art Foundation Artistic Director and DAS Chief Curator Diana Campbell Betancourt, Katya García Antón (Director of the Office for Contemporary Art Norway), Daniel Baumann (Director of the Kunsthalle in Zurich), artist Nikhil Chopra, Beth Citron (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Rubin Museum of Art), artist Madhavi Gore, curator Shanay Jhaveri, Aurelien Lemonier (Architecture Curator at the Centre Pompidou), Nada Raza (assistant curator at Tate Modern), Mohammad Muniruzzaman and artist Jana Prepeluh with Asia Art Archive Senior Researcher Sabih Ahmed and Amara Antilla (assistant curator at the Guggenheim Museum, New York).

The Samdani Art Foundation is pleased to announce further details about the participating artists and thinkers who will constitute the third edition of the globally acclaimed Dhaka Art Summit (DAS), the world’s largest non-commercial platform for South Asian art.

The 2016 edition will be held from February 5 to 8 in the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy in partnership with the country’s National Academy of Fine and Performing Arts. With extended hours, DAS is effectively two days longer than the 2014 edition and now with a free and ticket-less format, welcoming any interested visitor to the venue.

Inviting multiple artists, curators and thinkers who have built exhibitions based on commissioned research and experience within the region, DAS provokes reflections on transnationalism, selfhood and time without being prescriptive or directive. DAS is accepted as the main meeting point for art professionals from the region: coming mostly from Bangladesh over 300 artists, curators, writers and many other art professionals have been invited to participate in the different aspects of the DAS programme, which includes new commissions, curated group exhibitions, talks, performance and film programme, book launches and the Summit’s first historical exhibition, Rewind.

Through the unique format of the Summit, which is not a biennial, not a symposium, not a festival — but rather somewhere in-between and removed from the pressures of the art market — the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy transforms into a generative space to reconsider the past and future of art and exchange within South Asia and the rest of the world.

The programme can be viewed at www.dhakaartsummit.org and will continue to be updated as February comes closer.

Programme Highlights

Including loans from the Bangladesh National Collection, the Museum Folkwang in Essen, the Pinault Collection and many other leading public and private collections in South Asia, as well as partnerships with many leading institutions such as the Centre Pompidou, Bangladesh National Museum, Asia Art Archive, Asia Society, the Harvard South Asia Institute and more, DAS looks at South Asia from the vantage point of doing and becoming rather than cartography: looking at the triplet planes of imagination, will and circumstance.

Solo Projects

Reflecting the productive nature of DAS, the Solo Projects curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt will include thirteen newly commissioned works and three works reconfigured within the Bangladeshi context. The first DAS project commissioned by the Samdani Art Foundation, VIP Project (Dhaka) by Po Po, will first be unveiled at the 8th Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane. The solo projects will celebrate pluralism and look at the fluid continuum of birth and experience in becoming an individual, book-ended by Lynda Benglis and Tino Sehgal and with Shumon Ahmed, Tun Win Aung and Wah Nu, Simryn Gill, Waqas Khan, Shakuntala Kulkarni, Prabhavati Meppayil, Haroon Mirza, Amanullah Mojadidi, Sandeep Mukherjee, Po Po, Dayanita Singh, Ayesha Sultana, and Christopher Kulendran Thomas, Munem Wasif, and Mustafa Zaman.


Rewind is a group exhibition highlighting 12 artists from across South Asia who were active before the late 1980s. The exhibition is advised by Sabih Ahmed, Amara Antilla, Diana Campbell Betancourt and Beth Citron and will illuminate the ‘alternative universe offered by transnational modernism’, to use the words of academic Iftikhar Dadi who will also exhibit work at DAS. Works from various artists’ estates, the Pakistan High Commission, and other private collections will be shared with the public for the first time in over 30 years. Artists include Rashid Choudhury, Monika Correa, Germaine Krull, Nalini Malini, Anwar Jalal Shemza, Bagyi Aung Soe, Arpita Singh, and Lionel Wendt among others. This exhibition is generously supported by Amrita Jhaveri.

The Story of the Missing One

Enchantment, alienation and dystopia become the plot for an exhibition curated by Nada Raza, inspired by the title of a Bengali sci-fi story (claimed to be the earliest written) by J.C. Bose in 1896. The searching or enraptured gesture of looking up toward the sky becomes a thematic device as The Missing One navigates from a celestial modernist watercolour by Gaganendranath Tagore to cosmological enquiry and speculative visual exploration from the turn of the 21st century by Ronni Ahmmed, David Alesworth, Shishir Bhattacharjee, Fahd Burki, Neha Choksi, Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi, Rohini Devasher, Marzia Farhana, Aamir Habib, Zihan Karim, Ali Kazim, Sanjeewa Kumara, Firoz Mahmud, Mehreen Murtaza, Saskia Pintelon, Sahej Rahal, Tejal Shah, Himali Singh Soin, Mariam Suhail, and Hajra Waheed.

The Film Programme

The Film Programme is invested in locating South Asia, and the concerns that are most relevant to the region, as part of a broader transnational conversation. By including work by over 35 international filmmakers and artists, the programme will take up certain colonial and post colonial conditions, as explored through the lives and journeys of specific individuals, but also more analogously and speculatively focusing its attention on the stories and emotional narratives attached to objects, visual patterns and landscapes themselves. Curated by Shanay Jhaveri the programme includes screenings by - amongst others - Ashim Ahluwalia, Basma Alsharif, Kader Attia, JeanPierre Bekolo, Claudio Caldini, Anita Fernandez, Anna Bella Geiger, Narcisa Hirsch, Kiluanji Kia Hende, Ismail Merchant and James Ivory, Lamia Joreige, Mani Kaul, Bahman Kiarostami, Alexandre Larose, Jodie Mack, Lois Patiños, Lisl Ponger, Taiki Sakpisit, Jennifer Reeves and Sylvia Schedelbauer.

Mining Warm Data

Mining Warm Data is a group exhibition curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt. With works from artists from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, and Bangladesh and the wider diaspora, the exhibition looks at the role of fantasy, subjectivity, and imagination in creating a profile of a person, beyond the traditional and clinical methods applied by statistical analyses, government data agencies, economic interests, community interests, or dictatorial censorship. A new commission of Mariam Ghani and Chitra Ganesh’s ‘Index of the Disappeared’ will be the central point of this exhibition, realised in collaboration with the Samdani Art Foundation, Yale University Law School's Schell Center for Human Rights, and Creative Time Reports. Artists include Lida Abdul, Gazi Nafis Ahmed, Pablo Bartholomew, Neha Choksi, Hasan Elahi, S. Hanusha, Maryam Jafri, Dilara Begum Jolly, Amar Kanwar, Huma Mulji, Nge Lay, Nortse and Menika van der Poorten.

Architecture in Bangladesh (1947-2017) – The legacy of Muzharul Islam

Dhaka Art Summit 2016 invited Aurelien Lemonier to envision an exhibition about architecture in Bangladesh, the figures charged with building the country and the challenges they faced. Featuring 17 architects currently active in Bangladesh, Lemonier’s exhibition honours the ‘humanistic modernity’ of the late architect Muzharul Islam, who was instrumental in inviting Louis Kahn to build the masterpiece National Assembly Building, and compares the challenges which he was navigating - such as globalisation, the fluvian landscape of the Ganges delta and climatic changes of recent decades - to those of the architects working in Bangladesh today who are now trying to redefine the terms of contemporaneity according to today’s circumstances. A panel discussion with several of the architects, chaired by Farrokh Derakhshani (Director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture) will accompany the exhibition.

The Performance Pavilion: Shifting Hands, Sifting Sands

The Performance Pavilion — curated by Nikhil Chopra, Madhavi Gore, and Jana Prepeluh — relates to the idea of everything being in a state of becoming or flux, especially the human body, where movement and change are with us from the moment of birth to death. Shifting Hands, Sifting Sands aims to re-approach the current critiques surrounding performance art within both the institution and in an object orientated art world. Participating artists include Sajan Mani, Manmeet Devgun, Venuri Perera, Ali Asgar, Kabir Ahmed Masum Chisty, Sanad Kumar Biswas, Yasmin Jahan Nupur and Atish Saha.

The Samdani Art Award

In partnership with Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council and the Delfina Foundation, the Samdani Art Award will showcase the work of ten artists living and working in Bangladesh in an exhibition curated by Daniel Baumann, Director of the Kunsthalle in Zurich, along with artists Ayesha Sultana and Ruxmini Choudhury as assistant curators. Each of the ten finalists will have their exhibited works and portfolio evaluated by a jury of people working in some of the world’s most important museums, including Catherine David (Deputy Director, Centre Pompidou), Caroline Bourgeois (curator, Pinault collection, Paris), Beatrix Ruf (Director, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam) and Cosmin Costinas (Director, Para/Site Art Space, Hong Kong) The jury will be chaired by Aaron Cezar (Director of the Delfina Foundation, UK). Kiran Nadar, founder of New Delhi’s Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, will announce the winner at the opening dinner on February 5.

Critical Writing Ensembles

Drawing on the need to potentiate writing impulses across art histories, the Dhaka Art Summit will feature a new section titled Critical Writing Ensembles. Working from the prolific context of the South Asia region, the project brings together leading writers, critics, poets, philosophers and curators including artist, writer and curator Nabil Ahmed, writer and artist Belinder Dhanoa, art historian Anshuman Das Gupta, art critic Rosalyn D’Mello, Elena Filipovic (director of the Kunsthalle, Basel), artist and writer Mariam Ghani, writer and Director of the Mumbai Art Room Nida Ghouse, artist, writer and activist Salima Hashmi, critic, art historian and curator Geeta Kapur, Yin Ker (Assistant Professor, School of Art, Design and Media, Nanyang Technological University), Quinn Latimer (Editor in Chief of Publications, Documenta14), Maria Lind (Director of the Tensta Konsthall, Curator of the 2016 Gwangju Biennale, and an independent writer and critic), Chus Martínez (Head of the Institute of Art at the FHNW Academy of Art and Design, Basel), curator, writer and 51st Venice Biennale co-curator Rosa Martínez, writer and editor at Himal Southasian Aunohita Mojumdar, Paul B. Preciado (Curator of Public Programs for Documenta14), independent curator and publisher Sharmini Pereira, Filipa Ramos (Editor in chief of art-agenda), Shukla Sawant (artist and Associate Professor of Visual Studies at the School of Arts and Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi), critic and art historian Devika Singh, and Mike Sperlinger (Professor of Writing and Theory at Kunstakadamiet). The Ensembles are curated by Katya GarcíaAntón (Director, Office for Contemporary Art Norway) together with Diana Campbell Betancourt and are the result of a collaboration led by Pro Helvetia Swiss Arts Council’s Chandrika Grover Ralleigh (Head of Liaison Office India) with Diana Campbell Betancourt, Katya García-Antón and Bhavna Kakar (Director, Take on Art).

Panel Discussions

With speakers including Faizul Latif Chowdhury (Director, Bangladesh National Museum), artist Amar Kanwar, Omar Kholeif (Manilow Senior Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago), artist Dayanita Singh, Beatrix Ruf (Director, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam), Hans Ulrich Obrist (Codirector of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery, London), Sharmini Pereira, Suhanya Raffel (Deputy Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales, New Zealand), Salima Hashmi, and artist Vivan Sundaram, among others. The Panel Discussions will follow several branches of thought: the challenges and possibilities of acquiring art and archives from South Asia in a non-Western context, deliberating on research processes, stressing the importance of fieldwork and special commissions; the importance of context; and the structures of patronage that support institutions and future artist initiatives that take place in the peripheries of the art world, addressing and capturing their audiences in more remote contexts. These discussions will also consider creative processes that are fuelled by their off centre location, questioning the importance of the journey in the creative process, how to develop further art initiatives in these lesser-known locations and how they can support art development in a wider sense. Panels will address the future potential for regional group exhibitions and the politics surrounding them, the work of artists’ estates and legacy building in South Asia, and the rich history of exchange between Pakistani and Bangladeshi artists.

Asia Art Archive

In its ongoing effort to map and present the many histories of 20th century art writing in different languages of South Asia, Asia Art Archive will present its first Live Feed Station at DAS 2016. The Live Feed Station will be an on-site junction for viewing an array of some of the most interesting publications, art magazines, books and catalogues that have been published in the past century, and also an opportunity for visitors to explore the database and bring their own references to contribute to this expanding platform of shared knowledge. The Live Feed Station is part of Asia Art Archive’s ongoing Bibliography of Modern and Contemporary Art Writing project and is hosted by the Samdani Art Foundation at the Dhaka Art Summit.

Safina Radio Project

Safina Radio Project is an itinerant broadcasting platform, partnering with Dhaka Art Summit to build a programme of conversations and sound pieces with artists and curators taking part in the summit. Safina Radio Project is the official broadcast partner of Dhaka Art Summit 2016. The project is curated by Anabelle de Gersigny and is commissioned by Alserkal Avenue.

Dial-A-Poem by John Giorno

The Samdani Art Foundation will realise the first version of Dial-A-Poem in Bangladesh, in collaboration with Bengali poets that will be accessible across the city of Dhaka. Dial-A-Poem is a phone-based service started in 1968 by legendary artist and poet John Giorno (b. 1936, New York) after a phone conversation with his friend William Burroughs. Fifteen phone lines were connected to individual answering machines; anyone could phone Giorno Poetry Systems and listen for free to a poem offered from various live recordings. The venture was a success from 1969 onwards, and the poems dealt with numerous social issues such as the Vietnam War and the sexual revolution. Giorno forged his art in 1960s New York, and was associated with numerous important figures from that period, including Andy Warhol, the Beat writers, and avant-garde performers - who all influenced his generous, democratic work. In the 1970s John Giorno traveled in South Asia, in 1971 he converted to Buddhism in India; Buddhist, Sufi, and Baul poets have influenced the artist over the past four decades.

The Summit will include an exhibition of Bangladeshi art curated by Mohammad Muniruzzaman and a section devoted to Bangladeshi art spaces, providing a platform for visitors to experience the work of 10 galleries and non-profit organisations in the non-commercial context of the summit.


“Becoming is not a contradiction of being but the epiphany of being,” said revered art historian Ananda Coomaraswamy, and Dhaka Art Summit will continue to evolve in future editions based on the ideas sparked in February. A publication will come out after DAS documenting the Critical Writing Ensembles with illustrated documentation of the curated exhibitions, speakers panels, and critical correspondence, celebrating the Fifth Anniversary of the Samdani Art Foundation.


Please email info@samdani.com.bd for more information

With Additional Support from The Japan Foundation, Polish Institute and Camões - Portuguese Embassy Cultural Centre, New Delhi