The creative ecology is fragile.
The first generation of teachers in what is now the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka made deliberate strides to cultivate a context for artistic expression outside of British or West Pakistani domination. The school was and continues to be an intellectual meeting point and its building designed by Muzharul Islam made it one of the first examples of modern architecture in East Pakistan, if not all of South Asia. These teachers were politically active and vocal against the injustices imposed on them by West Pakistani rulers. They participated in mass movement demonstrations as part of the Language Movement of 1952 leading up to the independence movements of 1969–1971, remained involved in the struggle for democracy of 1980s and later participated in the anti-fundamentalist uprising movements of the last two decades. Newly- founded formal institutions like art schools as well as informal art education platforms outside of the capital (S. M. Sultan’s Shishu Swarga and Charupith in Jessore (1985)), artists such as Zainul Abedin with the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka in 1948, Rashid Choudhury with the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Chittagong (1970), and Shoshibhuson with Mahesharpasha School of Art; currently Fine Arts School, Khulna University (1904), established deep and resilient roots allowing the culture of East Bengal to spread its branches all over the country.
GUDSKUL is designed as a collective working simulation study space that promotes the importance of critical and experimental dialogue through a sharing process and experience-based learning. Stitching Ecosystem is a mini festival comprised of a series of workshops, sharing sessions, and market spaces with a focus on five of Gudskul’s eleven ‘collective studies’ subjects: Collective Sustainability Strategy, Public Relations, Spatial Practices, Art Laboratory, and Knowledge Garden. Through DAS, we connect and re-connect collective networks and inter-collectiveness, in order to understand and collaborate in different themes and contexts. We take this opportunity to build a bigger ecosystem, while maintaining the valuable organic intimacy found in any collective praxis. Further, this series of activities will cultivate, foster and distribute knowledge amongst the participating collectives in this platform, while also expanding network and sharable resources with the general public.
Preceding the Dhaka Art Summit 2020, Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun of the Otolith Group based themselves in Chittagong for a four-day workshop/training with students from the Asian University for Women (AUW) around the idea/philosophy of ‘blackness’ and ‘other ways of knowing and doing’. A group of students from the workshop subsequently travelled to Dhaka to participate/support the Otolith Group during the Summit. Image courtesy of Andrew Newton.
'It was really a great experience filled with emotions, exposure, fascination, and serenity. In the Otolith workshop, I got to meet amazing icons such as Anjalika and Kodwo, who showed us their films that pushed my way of thinking to the whole another level.'-- Jasmine (Nepal)
'...the greatest, totally supersizing experiences, and the new knowledge about film making and documentary.... by participating in the Dhaka Art Summit I found... our whole life is art, every day we are living is art. ' -- Mansoora (Afghanistan)
“O Horizon” 90’ video by the Otolith Group is an all encompassing submersion into today’s “structure of feeling” in relation with Rabindranath Tagore’s theories and imagination. A fantastic blast of cultural codes to absorb. One of my favorite works at the @dhakaartsummit. Never have I been forced to be so cognizant of the musicality in a video work. And it wasn’t the music per se. it was the intimate and lyrical treatment of sounds that bursted them into the forefront as a main character to challenge the imagery. By the way. the men’s attire choice of the “official Yokohama sports T-shirt” KILLS ME! Como siempre @dhakadiana gracias para toda la vida. #otolithgroup #kodwoeshun #intangibleculturalheritage #intangiblepatrimony #theotolithgroup #facemask (Image: The Otolith Group, O Horizon, 2018; 4K video still).
-- Instagram post by Benedicta Badia
She is our own, the darling of our hearts, Santiniketan.
In the shadows of her trees we meet
in the freedom of her open sky.
Our dreams are rocked in her arms.
Her face is a fresh wonder of love every time we see her,
for she is our own, the darling of our hearts.
- Rabindranath Tagore
Above: Muzharul Islam, Faculty of Fine Arts, Shahbagh, Dhaka, 1953–56 (photo by A. Q. M. Abdullah, 2004; Zainab F. Ali and Fuad H. Mallick, eds., Muzharul Islam, Architect [Dhaka: BRAC University Press, 2011]).