Background 80988898_3200743843287609_1791397826568126464_n
F3.large

Commissioned by the Samdani Art Foundation, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s narrative film Fog Dog, which premiered at the Dhaka Art Summit 2020, brings us into a community of human and inhuman inhabitants of Charukala, the Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka (designed by Muzharul Islam from 1953–55). Mixing fiction and contemplation, this work explores the past and future spectres that haunt present-day Bangladesh from the viewpoint of the stray dogs who live in and among its shared spaces. While life revolves around the art school for the protagonists in this film, the horrors of climactic and political violence elsewhere in the world appear and speak to the interconnectedness of seemingly disparate contexts. Employing sculpture, installation, film, holograms, and drawing, Steegmann invites the viewer to critically reflect on how the divide between culture and nature is perceived while exploring their constructed interstices. Echoing his interest in biological systems, specifically Brazilian rainforests, Steegmann’s works often introduce elements from nature into exhibition spaces.

 

Top: Fog Dog, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Vimeo version in cooperation with Esther Schipper Gallery

 

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]).

The Dacca Gauzes

 

Those transparent Dacca gauzes

known as woven air, running

water, evening dew:

 

a dead art now, dead over

a hundred years. "No one

now knows," my grandmother says,

 

"what it was to wear

or touch that cloth." She wore

it once, an heirloom sari from

 

her mother's dowry, proved

genuine when it was pulled, all

six yards, through a ring.

 

Years later when it tore,

many handkerchiefs embroidered

with gold-thread paisleys

 

were distributed among

the nieces and daughters-in-law.

Those too now lost.

 

In history we learned: the hands

of weavers were amputated,

the looms of Bengal silenced,

 

and the cotton shipped raw

by the British to England.

History of little use to her,

 

my grandmother just says

how the muslins of today

seem so coarse and that only

 

in autumn, should one wake up

at dawn to pray, can one

feel that same texture again.

 

One morning, she says, the air

was dew-starched: she pulled

it absently through her ring.

 

- Agha Shahid Ali