When the shutters go down, the street artists get to work. Below is a snap I took this morning in Brick Lane with my Sony-Ericsson c905. Click the image to see some more.
Cultural activists are trying to determine what has happened to Shahidul Alam.
Only a couple of years ago, a mate of mine - Sarwar Tamizuddin - was locked up by Indian border guards. He spent something like three months in prison before he got bail.
Please get the message out and please get Alam released.
The nuts are at it again. Five sculptures of Bauls have been removed including one of Lalon from the vicinity of Dhaka airport. I hear today that there has been some kind of damage also? Can anyone confirm?
The roads and highways department as well as the civil aviation authority came under pressure from the “Sculpture Prevention Committee” and removed the busts. Unbelievable. Check the Daily Star here and here.
2008 Turner prize: BBC profile of the nominees
In conversation with Tine Fischer. “I really admire Godard’s ability to take two fundamental notions like ‘truth and fiction’, distinct as genres, and interchange them with ease.”
“a young, dark-skinned, dark-eyed Bangladeshi British woman” by Janet Owen
White Cube: “Runa Islam makes film and video installations that use overlapping layers of narrative to explore notions of truth and fiction, subjectivity and authorship. Islam installs her films in architectural configurations, frequently presenting them across two or three screens as a framing device. Her work aims to blur the distinctions between film and sculpture, art and cinema, and encourages a range of interpretations from viewers.”
More stills and links from SiouxWire
G M B Akash’s 2008 porftolio is now there for you to see. Some great shots there but the ones re drug users look a little…… without any text? A little piece of reality with striking colours but without any conscience? Don’t know. Don’t get me wrong I am a keen amateur and I love photography but without context the photographer imposes his own preferences about style and composition and taste over and above the “condition” he is photographing?
He spoke out against the exploitation of migrant Bangladeshi workers. He set up an open house and free clinic to serve the bangladeshi workers in Bahrain. I made this blog post about him in 2006. He seemed exceptional in the causes he took up on behalf of working people. One simply doesn’t expect that from our diplomats. Recently, his post was shifted to Paris, and no doubt, he got mired in the Guimet fiasco. I was keenly looking forward to meeting him for the purposes of a project i am involved in - but that will not be. Go well, Mr Amin.
has a new website at
My work reflects my thoughts on culture, politics and society. Sometimes, I like to reveal hidden truth in our social life. One of my pieces is titled Sink; there I tried to show some street children who are reading. I realize they have no opportunity to go school but when they get a book or a newspaper, they try to read it very attentively. Resist depicts a female figure and a child. In Bangladesh, Women and children survive many difficulties. I want to see them as very strong.
Ah yes the bumbling and incompetent Inspector Clouseau must have been in charge of the precious bits and pieces at Zia Airport the other day when the nation’s heritage was under the care of Air France. Two priceless pieces have gone walkies. And the rest have been returned to the national museum as the powers that be finally resolved to not send the stuff to the Guimet in Paris. As I said in an earlier post, this whole thing at the Guimet lacked process even apparently the final decision to send them according to the New Nation.
And amazingly, Ayub Quadri, the education and cultural adviser to the inappropriately named “caretaker” government, is mulling resignation. I guess he is hoping Monsieur Clouseau will find the priceless Vishnu artefacts and save his skin.
Meanwhile I reckon Inspector Clouseau’s spokesman has started the damage limitation exercise at the French embassy in Dhaka. They reckon the whole thing was “highly suspicious.” Mon dieu! Yes it gets better. And they are effectively blaming those people who objected to the exhibition for the theft! This is a quote from their press release :
”… could also be the result of a conspiracy by a very small nexus of people to embarass France and Bangladesh.”
And the fallout in France? Well the concern is overwhelming it seems from my preliminary searches in newspapers such as Le Monde, Liberation etc. Not a damn thing. I even looked at L’humanite…a paper I always bought on my dirty weekends in Paris…but there also, NOTHING.
The great Banksy is back in Palestine. And through his PR people he says he wants more tourists in Bethlehem….Interesting…i thought there was a boycott of Israel amongst progressive minded people….? But I think a change of tac is probably a good thing.
The cartoon says “Save me!” It depicts Bangladesh as a tree shot through with parasites ( corruption). The irony is that the cartoonist who created the above cartoon is in need of saving himself from the corrupt polity that is Bangladesh. Old Arif - he is only 20 - is in jail for insulting the sentiments of a certain very toxic special interest group.
In case you are wondering, I did not tag on the Md. at the beginning of his name. It seems he used to use it in 2005 when he won a prize for this cartoon in a competition organised by Transparency International. Head over to Rezwan’s page to get the low down.
Court blocks shipment of priceless objects
Salaams and secular greetings from Dhaka. If you recall I blogged about a major Paris based exhibition on Bangladesh called “Shonar Bangla.” One aspect of the programme was a major exposition of films and documentaries about Bd. Another part of it was to display, for the first time outside Bangladesh, recently unearthed and priceless archaeological objects….I say “was” because, ooh la la, the organisers have hit a snag. Various Bangladeshi cultural activists and intellectuals were alerted to the lack of process and procedure in the shipment of these objects, lack of accountability, and deficiency in the sums insured. They took the matter to court and there is now a 2 month stay order on these objects (scheduled to be shown in Paris in less than a month)! Mon dieu indeed! The presitigious Guimet is in a bit of a pickle, and I suspect the local French ambassador here in Dhaka is busy twisting arms.
I must say I was a bit peeved when I asked the Museum to check the versions of two documentaries I have been involved in and to make sure they show the latest versions. It has taken 4 months, and I still have no answer! Rather insultingly, but in a sweet french way of course, they informed me I would not have to pay to attend the shows…. If that is how small issues are handled…then, sacre bleu, how are they managing the biggers ones? And from our point of view, i am glad that we are not simply surrendering precious artefacts without any kind of process. Perhaps some of this concern will rub off and be of assistance to those desperately trying to save our heritage sites.
Here is their blurb about the stuff ( which I reproduce in full from http://www.museeguimet.fr/Masterpieces-of-Gange-delta ) :
Bangladesh possesses an immensely important cultural heritage, this arising from the fact that the eastern half of Bengal has been one of the cultural richest regions of the Indian world; a vision far from the catastrophic one that the western world often tends to favour.
I find his mix of humour and social commentary very compelling. This scupltor is not only talented but he is also quite fearless. I can’t wait to see his work in the future. And oh yes, I own that statue you see…
pic with N95 at the Bengal Gallery
The National Museum of Asian Arts -Guimet in Paris is holding a major programme entitled “Shonar Bangla” ( golden Bangla) between September 2007 and January 2008. Here is the pdf of the entire programme. (1941kb in size).
It will be featuring two documentaries I have been involved in. I am a bit annoyed that they have got the production date of Bostrobalikara as 2006 and not 2007. I have some invites I believe and so if you want to go to any of the screenings (of any of the films) lemme know.
The Bengal Art gallery is always a pleasure to visit. Of course like so many other things, it turns out that it may have been built with dodgy money. Its founder Abul Khair Litu is under suspicion for corruption (but is serving his remand time in hospital of course) …Yesterday some insiders were hopeful that he might get bail at the end of the month. Whilst the gallery continues to put on exhibitions, apparently the absence of the impresario has affected Bengal Foundation projects.
And there is added reason to visit the area these days. The unbelievable good news is that Nandos is opening opposite the gallery very shortly! This is an incredible badge of confidence in the republic of Bangladesh by a foreign investor. I have no reason to believe that it too is locally associated with dodgy money but I do know that Robert Brazon’s brand had very difficult and humble beginnings. Mr Brazon was in his thirties when he decided he would market peri-peri chicken in South Africa. The banks rejected him doubting his ability to compete with KFC and Chicken-Licken. The chicken farms also initially did not come forward. But somehow he broke through the barriers and today his chain spans all five continents I believe. I have the good fortune of having not one but two in my home town of Cambridge. It is a shame that the marketing is overwhelmingly “Portugese” slanted and its South African origins are all but buried. So here is a snap of it in Dhanmondi opposite the Bengal ( you can see me in the foreground dressed as a bush. My way of dealing with the curfew):