The exhibition is on view at Quamrul Hassan Exhibition Hall, Level 1, Bengal Shilpalay, House 42, Road 27, Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1209, until Saturday 8 April 2023, every day from 4 to 8 PM except on Tuesdays.
Atlas of Dissent
Dhali Al Mamoon’s monumental work represents the manifold entanglement of Bengal’s history- the impact of colonial past, its deeply embedded patterns of trauma, the psychic and constructed spaces around us that continues to shape our social systems and collective memory. History, in Mamoon’s narration, does not run ‘linearly’, but is disjointed and contingent to the norms of its victim. Using an array of drawings, sounds, videos, kinetic objects, pseudo-artefacts and organic materials in the exhibition, the artist constructs a complex, sensory and emblematic experience while revisiting the wounded past. Mamoon’s approach to artmaking inflects a shared conscience, with a philosophical and poetic underpinning against the colonial hegemony of our knowledge systems.
In the exhibition, the artist presents us with a sensory language of inquiry into our past, by extensively using tea, indigo, oil, and cloves. These natural materials were arguably essential in creating colonial trading patterns and replacing staple crops across the region. Indigo’s past in Bengal was intertwined with slavery and uprisings, resulting in farmers’ revolt and massacre of numerous peasants in mid-nineteen-century. Marking a stark contrast, the same decade celebrated a global display of fine embroidered textiles and antique artefacts from India, by the East India Company, in a large exhibition in London, titled ‘The Great Exhibition of 1851’.
The colonies introduced map-making as an empirical tool to inscribe resources to organise the land, thus, obscuring the people’s sense of belongingness to their territories. Mamoon presents cartography as a counter-response by advancing active signifiers of a lost and unrecognised land, and liberating our imaginations beyond the visible and invisible borderlines.
The embedded effects of colonialism are strongly linked to our current realities, and they raise some important questions: Where do we go from here? What is erased over time and what is revealed? How would we develop transversal dialogues with both decolonial and ecological perspectives? Mamoon’s sharp choice of locally-sourced materials and traditional methodologies addresses the necessary entanglement of contemporary nature and culture; the environment and us; the question of sustainability, epistemic, symbolic and physical dependency between nonhumans and humans; and finally, to the call for environmental and social justice.
Curatorial advisor, Bengal Arts Programme
Rereading re-constructing the past
Elements of the colonial past continues to pervasively dominate our ways of living, learning and daily practices. The burden of this inheritance controls our mind, thought patterns and dissociates us from the history of our being and our distinct ecology; which at the same time governs our creative process, art-diction and subject these to extraneous standards. Realisation of this absurdity inspired me to choose the colonial condition as my locus of enquiry. In effect, this is but a way to explore my own situatedness. While following a trajectory of thought, constituent properties-process become a pivotal part of structuring a language—the ongoing effort to understand all these vectors resulted not only in the artworks but also the process leading to them.
– Dhali Al Mamoon
Dhali Al Mamoon was born in Chandpur, Bangladesh in 1958. Through drawing, painting, kinetic sculpture and installation, he delves into a critical enquiry of epistemology, history and self-identity. He considers art to be an essential knowledge-system, which is pivotal in rendering the structures of thought, perception and the innumerable layers of experience visually intelligible. Mamoon makes use of materials related to his subject-matter, tradition and local narratives.
After acquiring a master’s degree from University of Chittagong, Mamoon began his career in teaching at the Fine Arts department. He pursued further studies as a DAAD fellow in Germany during 1993-94. Dhali Al Mamoon received the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Award in the 14th National Art Exhibition (2000), and Grand Prize in the 12th Asian Art Biennale in Dhaka (2006). Mamoon’s works were presented in the Bangladesh Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2013; READYMADE by Bangladeshi artists, AICON gallery, New York, 2014; Bangladesh Pavilion, 1st Kathmandu Triennale, 2017; Majhi International artist Residency, Venice, 2019; DAS, Dhaka Art Summit, 2020; HANDS, ADKDW, Koln, Germany, 2021; Pop South Asia , Sharjah Art Foundation(SAF) and Kiran N