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- 17th Young Artists' Art Exhibition 2010 begins
"Objects in Mirror"-A Four Sided Exhibition
Photo by Amirul Rajiv
"Objects in Mirror"-A Four Sided Exhibition
When photographers or artists come together for a group exhibition we are programmed to think and even search out a common theme within their works. A thread that dangles from one's picture only to be picked up and weaved into another's. That idea has been turned on its head with Britto Arts Trust arranging a photographic group exhibition at Drik Gallery with many themes and many faces. Their only common ground is the camera. Starting today, four photographers from different walks of life with different experiences and different influences will come together for an exhibition, yet even their coming together is a parting of sorts. Munem Wasif, Amirul Rajiv, Sanjida Shahid Sunny and Bruno Rhuf are photographers who not only push the artistic envelope in their exhibition but openly question it.
Photo by Munem Wasif
Amirul Rajiv's work challenges and intimidates all at once. He says, “Everywhere you look there is tension, the tension around the world is pulsating and my work is not a reaction to it, but a product of it.” He talks of internal conflict and wanting to break free and his work seems a true representation of that state of mind. His 'Intelligent Metallic Empire' explores sharp metal objects and their relationship to reality and as one might say the reality of his being. Frowned upon and dreaded he uses knives as a symbol of frustration and repression from which he seeks to break free. Yet even his representation of freedom is skewered through his objects of desire. The freedom he seeks is quite plainly understood as the burden of not being, which can only be achieved through suicide. He openly states that he has tried to take his life twice and that is also where he derives his fascination for sharp metal objects which he portrays in stunning fashion through his work. Few pictures can match his hospital-like imagery where a meat cleaver is placed with slim sharp metal stakes and a piece of carved beef, full of emotion yet doused in anesthesia.
For the exhibition Munem Wasif has revisited old Dhaka in a new yet familiar way. Having worked with and in the area for over five years it is safe to say he knows his way around. Having photographed there extensively it would have been easy for him to fall back onto a previous body of work. Yet he chose to add newer chapters to his very personal novel of old Dhaka instead of editing a previous draft. The result was that he shot in colour instead of his classic black and white images and narrowed his focus in more ways than one to capture close-ups of ordinary objects and places devoid of humans. Wasif says, “traditionally my strength has been photographing people but with these pictures I wanted to capture their presence through their absence.” What he leaves us with are images that resonate of human presence only through their stark absence. His playful use of colour seems at times to fill the vacuum left by humans without overpowering the emptiness he craves. Some standout pictures include a deep rich blue wall bathed in sunlight with hangars and a framed picture. It is an image which portrays the very ordinariness of our lives as does his picture of a surreal green wall with superman stickers which almost take flight in the absence of children.
Sanjida Shahid Sunny brings to the exhibition an eclectic potpourri of images which stand out even more than her pointed opinions on art. Sunny says emphatically, “photography should be considered part of fine arts, its noted exclusion from the so-called 'canon' of fine arts is nothing short of a joke.” Her pictures stand as her best defense to such a statement as they lay out her philosophy of solitude as almost recreational. For her the act of taking a picture is lonely business which she actively seeks out. Searching for those moments of solitude where if she is lucky enough she will capture others like her. The results of those one-on-one pictures are moments where only the photographer and the subject matter and in a sense they share a sort of collective solitude.
Photography in Bangladesh is still largely either documentary or journalistic but it is exhibitions such as these which seek to widen the artistic scope of the camera. The layman often looks at the pursuit and claims that cameras and not the people take pictures, this exhibition has done enough to dissolve that urban myth. The photographers bring to us seemingly unimportant objects and themes and yet without their human touch no camera in the world could have captured what they did.
Published from Star weekend Magazine April 4 2008 issue.
Objects in Mirror: Closer than they appear
Exhibition at Drik ends
Strums of guitar broke the mould. Musicians Rahul Anand, Krishnokoli, Sawjib and others were jamming; the setting at Drik Gallery on April 10 was informal. The exhibition "Objects in Mirror" wrapped up with music.
The exhibition featured works of four photo-artists -- Munem Wasif, Amirul Rajiv, Sanjida Shaheed and Bruno Ruhf -- and was organised by Britto Arts Trust.
Much has been said about the (non-existent) blurry line between photography and art. Over the course of 182 years photography has come a long way and the interaction between science and art in the medium has become more profound. Photo-artists have created an identity for themselves.
Photo by Amirul Rajiv
In Bangladesh however, this trend is yet to catch on. Very few artists have experimented with photography. This exhibition is a step towards grasping that idea. Going by the inquisitive photo-enthusiasts and conversation with the photo-artists, this endeavour seemed to have worked out well.
Munem Wasif, whose black and white images of Old Dhaka earned him international recognition, is back with another series on the crumbling part of the city. These images however, are as similar to his previous works as apples and pineapples.
Titled "In Transition", Munem's series at the exhibition highlighted details and close shots of objects. All photographs are in colour (medium format). A portrait hung lopsided on a blue wall, some hangers and a picture of the goddess Kali towards the right end of the frame -- make an interesting image. Toast biscuits on a tray in a bakery look surreal with the jade green top part of the oven and its blue base. Imprints of footsteps created when someone spilt water -- makes perhaps, the most evocative shot in the series.
French artist Bruno Ruhf's series highlighted the giant boats plying the river Buriganga. Bruno's collection of artworks on 'the walls of Dhaka' (2005) was lauded by the local art enthusiasts.
The images of boats on Buriganga have been manipulated by the artist to give them a feel of painting. One of the images has been 'mirrored' while some have been 'cloned' and 'feathered'. The output: Buriganga like no Dhakaiite has seen before.
Finding the 'exotic' in the 'mundane' seems to be the artist's forte.
Amirul Rajiv's "Intelligent Metal Empire" was perhaps the most provocative collection at the exhibition. Through the use of metal objects (mostly sharp ones), Rajiv delves into the duality of human existence.
A self-proclaimed devotee of Tarkovsky, Rajiv is "intrigued by the everyday use of sharp (metal) objects". The same surgical knife that is used in medical operations can also be used to kill. Razors that are used in shaving can also cut veins. Rajiv, an impulsive photo-artist who tried to commit suicide in the past, has a steady job. Sharp metal objects then, are extensions of our dual nature.
In one of the images fish and scissors on a tray create symmetry; another frames a skinned chicken, accompanied by three eggs and star-fish. Rajiv appears in some his works.
Photo by Amirul Rajiv
"The response has been great!" -- says Rajiv. "People have been shocked, appalled, moved, inspired. What's most important is that these images make the viewer think."
Sanjida Shaheed's series "Of Loneliness and Solitude" came across as installation. All photos were framed in cardboard boxes, making the viewer come closer to see them.
The photos present isolation in different settings. One image shows a young boy taking a nap on the sidewalk by the beautifully decorated walls of IFA (Institute of Fine Arts). In another photo, a woman in veils waits at the entrance of a photo-developing store.
These "images in mirror" may have overwhelmed the viewer, coming across as distant and mysterious. But a second (or third) look reassured that the objects (and subjects) are closer to us than we think.
Published from Star Arts and Entertainment April 12 2008 issue.
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