The 17th Asian Art Biennale, currently underway at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, is the place to be for city dwellers and foreigners in Dhaka alike. Apart from countries of Asia and the Pacific regions, artists from all over the world have taken part in the grand art fiesta. For the first time an international artist along with five renowned Bangladeshi artists selected the artworks for display, while international jury board members from five countries --Bangladesh, Japan, Indonesia, Poland and Republic of Korea selected awards from over 500 artworks. Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy with support from the Ministry of Cultural Affairs has organised the monthlong art exhibition.
Seasoned thespian, cultural personality and Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor talked to this correspondent about diverse aspects and facets of 17th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2016. Excerpts:
“Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has set some certain policies and targets to project our opulent artistic and cultural heritage to the rest of the world. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs and all its wings like Bangla Academy, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangladesh National Museum, Central Public Library, and Nazrul Institute are discharging their jobs to achieve the desired goals.
“This year, 127 foreign artists from 54 countries of the world are taking part in the biennale with 277 artworks. We think curating is a big issue to showcase artworks on such a vast scale. We didn't get the best quality artworks by the foreigners due to the lack of proper curatorial jobs. We hope to reach a wider angle of the globe to attract artists for participation in the next Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh.”
“I cannot dictate artists to depict artworks highlighting the heritage of Bangladesh. They are free to create their own realities. Every artist has close contact with the soil where they were born. We find the essence of Bangladesh in the works of eminent artists Shahabuddin Ahmed and Monirul Islam, though they have been living in France and Spain for decades. It is evident. Rootlessness cannot create an artist. As the way we are participating in Asian Art Biennale, we should take part in biennales held in other countries. Two years back, we participated in the Venice Art Biennale. That helped us introduce Bangladesh in a different light. Previously, we didn't take any initiative, but we are now taking these initiatives boldly so that our artistic heritage goes beyond borders.”
“Art represents both national and international issues and aspects. It cannot be confined to a certain space and reality. The more we exchange, the more we enrich ourselves. This applies to any sort of art, literature and culture. Through the Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh, Dhaka has become an international hub of arts and artists, and this is what the spirit of an international art biennale is all about.”