The sixth edition of the biennial Dhaka Art Summit (DAS 2023) (3–11 February 2023) was given a Bengali name for the first time: বন্যা/Bonna. Apparently a common name for girls in Bangladesh, Bonna translates to ‘flood’, which speaks to the monsoon cycles that shaped the land, situated on the world’s largest river delta, and its entangled cultures.
Bangladesh’s geography positions it among the countries most impacted by climate change. Weather irregularities causing catastrophic floods have created unimaginable damage while highlighting traditional farming methods as highly innovative—such as the water-hyacinth rafts, known as dhap, upon which farmers in the south sow their crops.
Bonna emphasises this dialectical, contextual reality across five exhibitions at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, in addition to the central show curated by DAS artistic director Diana Campbell Betancourt. The result is some 120 participating artists, architects, and writers, with over half from Bangladesh and the majority producing new commissions.
Curated by Bishwajit Goswami in collaboration with Brihatta Art Foundation, দ্বৈধ(a duality) emphasises the riverine culture of a place that welcomes the new year with a song that invites annual floods to make way for new beginnings.
Munem Wasif’s installation পতন / Collapse (2021–2023), positioned outside the DAS 2023 auditorium, includes a large black-and-white photograph framed on black metal scaffolding, depicting a brutalist structure standing on the Jamuna River with stilt-like columns.
Nearby, two black steel-framed columns display black-scale shots that contrast the rigid lines of modernist constructions with enigmatic close-ups of water, plus one image where veins bulge out of a clenched forearm. More photographs are arranged choreographically on the wall—a rocky arch; a glowing, white moon; watery ripples.
Invitations for conceptual fun abound in this part of DAS 2023. Neha Choksi and Rachelle Rojany’s Swing for friends (used in Faith in friction) (2017) is a circle of green rubber-belt swings hanging from the ceiling by their chains. Ahmet Öğüt’s Jump Up! (2022) is described as ‘four audience activated trampolines’.
Read the entire article here: https://ocula.com/magazine/features/in-bangladesh-the-dhaka-art-summit-blooms/