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FRAGMENTS OF THE ANTHROPOCENE

BENGAL ART LOUNGE presents “FRAGMENTS OF THE ANTHROPOCENE”, an exhibition of video-works, installations, paintings and drawings by SHIMUL SAHA and ZIHAN KARIM – Saturday, 30 January 2016 (6pm) to Saturday, 27 February 2016.
Bengal Art Lounge is delighted to announce the inauguration of “Fragments of the Anthropocene”, a duo exhibition by Shimul Saha and Zihan Karim. Showcasing video-works, installations, paintings and drawings, the exhibition has been jointly inaugurated by Professor Salimullah Khan, Department for General Education, ULAB, and Mr. Rafiq Azam, Principal Architect, Shatotto, today Saturday 30 January 2016.
Recent, overwhelming scientific evidence tend to indicate that our planet has now entered a new geological era best defined by the impact of human activity on Earth's systems and processes. Coined at the turn of the 21st century, the term “Anthropocene” designates this latest time period which is marked by human activity such as extensive agriculture, land reclamation or large-scale urbanization. The exhibition “Fragments of the Anthropocene” invites the viewer to discover two young Bangladeshi artist's take on this phenomenon.

Both born in the early eighties, Shimul Saha and Zihan Karim have lived most of their lives in Dhaka and Chittagong respectively, two sprawling urban areas which have profoundly influenced their art practices. Their “Anthropocene” is an age in which the individual is primarily confronted with loss: loss of (bio) diversity through physical pain or debilitating diseases, loss of heritage through the incessant transformation of the cityscape, and loss of creativity to conform to new behavioral codes and aggressive social norms induced by urbanization. Far from being resigned or nostalgic, Saha and Karim treat these issues with sensibility or, on the contrary, scathing irony to deliver a powerful understanding of the age they live in.

Zihan Karim's two “Clocks” projected on the ground question the constant urban renewal at stake in big cities. In this video-work, old buildings of Chittagong marked for demolition are filmed in close-up, their images shaken up and distorted. Animations of bikes progressing clock- and counterclockwise on the edge of the videos seem to long for a soon-to-be-forgotten past, or to aspire to a bright future. Further in the exhibition, Karim's face-covered “Characters”, parts of a LED back-lit animation, and his various small format paintings of the “Corporate Fantasy” series read as a sarcastic comment on urban professionals trading their individuality for the smart dress-codes and money-driven power they crave. Absorbed in their petty games, they seem blind to the outer world.

Shimul Saha poignant light installation, “Toward the Being” and the various light-boxes representing rotting leaves directly refer to the sapping powers of cancer. In the context of the exhibition, the glowing artworks read as a larger metaphor for an entity confronted to the degeneration of its parts; a body attacked and slowly exhausting – and an indirect hint to the effects of human activity on nature. Further, the artist's drawings of thumb-prints made of thousand reproductions of his hand signature and embossed with his own ID number, raise defiant questions on the very definition of identity. As hollow and empty as Karim's face-covered characters, these oversized fingerprints seemingly mock the attempts to reduce the individual to biometric parameters. In a striking parallel, both artists point at the loss of (self) awareness as one of the Anthropocene's many ills.

For both artist, the new era also carries opportunities. Zihan Karim's meditative video-work “Through my Window” mixing images of urban and rural environment is an appeasing work which invites the viewer to pause and reflect on what is, and what could be. A sense of hope is also present in Shimul Saha's “Cheers”, an object made of intimately intricate symbols of the masculine and the feminine. Continuing on the artist's artistic interest in gender related themes, the object

seems to plead for an “Anthropocene” in which constructed social boundaries about gender could be decoupled of the biological sexes allocated by nature to the human species. 

“Fragments of the Anthropocene” is an exhibition of the works of two daring young artists. It hints at a few, pressing issues that will find echo in today's Bangladesh. A space dedicated to the newest forms of artistic expression, Bengal Art Lounge is delighted to present this exhibition to the public.

 “Fragments of the Anthropocene” at Bengal Art Lounge – Saturday 23 January (inauguration, 6pm) to Saturday 27 February – Open daily, 12-8pm – To interview the artist, or to book a press preview of the exhibition please contact: art.lounge@bengalfoundation.org / 02-989.5135 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS 

Shimul Saha (b. 1983) is a contemporary visual artist who lives and works in Dhaka. He hascompleted his Masters in Art and Design Studies from Beaconhouse National University in Lahore (Pakistan) in 2013. Saha has taken part to several residencies at home and abroad. Very recently he has received the Honorable Mention at the 21st National Art Exhibition in Bangladesh. He is one of the trustee of Britto Arts Trust (http:/www.brittoartstrust.org) 

Zihan Karim (b. 1984) lives and works in Chittagong. He obtained his MFA from the Institute of FineArts of Chittagong University (2012), where he is now a lecturer. Karim has participated to various exhibitions at home and abroad, including the Dhaka Art Summit (2012 and the upcoming edition of 2016), the 5th Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial (Japan, 2014) and Next Art Tainan (Taiwan, 2015). He was awarded an Honorable Mention at the Bangladesh Asian art Biennial (2012). Zihan is a founding member of “JOG Art Space” in Chittagong (https://jogartspace.wordpress.com/)
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