Ashfika Rahman at The Dhaka Art Summit 2023

February 3, 2023
Ashfika Rahman at The Dhaka Art Summit 2023

Ashfika Rahamnn is exhibited in The Dhaka Art Summit 2023, Dhaka, Bangladesh running 3-11 February. The sixth edition is the first edition with a Bangla subtitle; বন্যা/Bonna.

The Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is an international, non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia. With a core focus on Bangladesh, DAS re-examines how we think about these forms of art in both a regional and an international context. DAS is hosted every two years at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and was founded in 2012 by the Samdani Art Foundation, which continues to produce the festival in collaboration with the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, People’s Republic of Bangladesh. Following the fifth edition subtitled Seismic Movements which welcomed nearly 500,000 visitors in nine days in February 2020, its sixth edition is the first edition with a Bangla subtitle; বন্যা/Bonna.

DAS 2023 considers the ways in which we inherit and form vocabularies to understand the world around us, and the mistranslation that can ensue when we try to apply these vocabularies to unfamiliar contexts; the same word can migrate from positive to negative connotations and back depending on how and where it travels. Weather and water as shapers of history and culture as well as being metaphors for life in general are viewed in an embodied way through the lens of those who live in Bangladesh, next to the sea and rivers, underneath the storm systems, feeling the wind and rain. This is further explored through a consideration of how Bengali children encounter these phenomena, palpably but also via the stories passed down through generations. The aim is to see past the limits of translation which can be incapable of conveying the different ways we negotiate the world, and open up new channels for transcultural empathy. How do you tell the story of a crisis, while facilitating hope?  

Rahman's new project বেহুলা আজকাল (Behula These Days) is a collaborative community project articulating the violence against women around in one of the most flood-prone areas in Bangladesh, which is also the birthplace of the mythological figure Behula.  

Behula is the protagonist of one of the most famous epic mythological love stories in Bengal - Behula and Lakhindar - written between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries. This popular mythological love story is translated through the lens of feminism in Ashfika Rahman’s work.

Rahman’s practice explores and experiments with photography, using media ranging from historical techniques like 19th-century printmaking to documentary approaches and contemporary media. Photography is the predominant medium that she uses to express her views on complex systemic social issues such as violence, rape, and religious extremism – often overlooked by the administrative machinery of the state. In her practice, she creates a conceptual timeline of the stereotypes of victims, repeated across history, notably in regard to minority communities in Bangladesh.

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