In 2016, the Bengal Arts Programme developed a growing network of regional and international partners. From supporting exhibitions, holding the first Asian Curatorial Forum to representing Bangladesh in Kathmandu Triennale and Documenta 14, the Arts Programme continues to reach out to avenues for collaboration and exchange, with the aim to deepen understanding, enhance sensitivity and develop a humane approach.
The Artist as Activist
Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
‘The Artist as Activist’ was the first major exhibition from South Asia at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan featuring two leading Bangladeshi artists, Mahbubur Rahman and Tayeba Begum Lipi. The exhibition was supported by Bengal Arts Programme.
Asian Curatorial Forum
The Asian Curatorial Forum was an attempt to bring fresh perspectives on shared issues in the field of art curating across the continent. Art professionals from ten different Asian countries took part in the forum. By sharing experiences and confronting challenges common to various Asian contexts, the Asian Curatorial Forum identified specific, practical solutions that can benefit participants to implement in their respective contexts. The variety of the roles of the curator across distinct institutional systems in Asia – public or private, non-profit or commercial, constituted the point of focus of the discussions. The discussions unfolded across four thematic sessions, each covering important issues currently at play in the visual arts sector in Asia.
Participating panellists briefly introduced their practice to the public, highlighting a rich but scattered landscape. Relatively recently established across the continent, these systems are porous, and the curators’ many roles across them remain fluid. Discussions at the Forum examined the impact this fluidity may have on the definition of the curator’s position. They attempted to redefine the role of the curators so as to better address ambiguities that may exist in the various systems they operate in. Presentations of selected art initiatives in Bangladesh took place before each session to enhance their international visibility and anchor the discussions within the local context of the country.
Asian Curatorial Forum was jointly organised by Britto Arts Trust and Bengal Foundation
July- September 2017
The works of two artists from Bangladesh were presented for the first time in the history of this key international exhibition, with the support of the Bengal Arts Programme.
Two ink drawings of Zainul Abedin’s famed Famine Series powerfully captured the tragic and often overlooked episode of the Bengal famine of 1943, belonging to the private collection of Abul Khair (Chair, Bengal Foundation) and ‘Two Meetings and a Funeral’, a three-channel film by artist and writer Naeem Mohaiemen, were presented to the international audience for the first time at the prestigious Documenta 14 in Kassel, Germany.
Contributing to the unprecedented participation in Documenta 14, Bengal Foundation wishes to reaffirm its support to both the modernist heritage and the leanings of contemporary art in the country.