Para Site, Samdani Art Foundation, and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw are pleased to present A beast, a god, and a line in its inaugural iteration at the Dhaka Art Summit 2018. This major travelling exhibition curated by, is woven by connections and circulations of ideas across a geography with Bengal at its core. Commonly called Asia-Pacific, it could also be defined by several other definitions, which the exhibition will explore and untangle. Overlapping and sometimes conflicting or barely discernible beneath the strident layers of contemporaneity and the modern waves of destruction, these worlds are still the pillars of a region that is going through a process of replacing its colonial cartographic coordinates, a process this exhibition proudly serves.
Further on, the project touches some issues marking the current historical moment in this macro-region: the development and spread of politicised religion (jihadist Islam across several countries, fascist Buddhism in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, and Hindu ethno-fascism in India, alongside revivalist Christianity among many indigenous communities and the Philippines), the rise of political populism and loss of faith in liberal-democracy, the negotiation of real or imagined traditional cultures in modern societies, and, circumscribing the previous issues, the various attempts to create parallel narratives to Western modernity.
These issues circulate across South Asia and South East Asia on routes going back to several historical eras: the early Austronesian world that has woven a maritime universe surpassed in scale only by European colonialism, from Hawaii, New Zealand, to Madagascar with Taiwan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines at its core; the great transfer of cultural and religious ideas across South Asia and South East Asia; the trade routes of the Indian Ocean before the European imperial monopoly; and the intellectual and political visions during the anti-colonial struggle and post-colonial nation building, forming the immediate pre-history of the contemporary issues mentioned above.
At the core of the exhibition are works by contemporary artists as well as their visions. However, many of the historical traces and layers are drawn by textiles, which occupy a crucial position in this exhibition, framing its architecture and narrative.
The exhibition contains several autonomous sections, thematic godowns supporting the trade of ideas and forms: one concentrating more in-depth on several narratives related to textiles, and one conceived together with Simon Soon and a group of Filipino artisans.
Exhibition organised by Dhaka Art Summit, Para Site (Hong Kong), and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw.
The travelling exhibition went on view at four partner locations in 2018, as follows:
Dhaka Art Summit ’18
Feb 2 – 10, 2018
Mar 17 – May 20, 2018
Jun 6 – 22, 2018
Museum of Modern Art
Jul 20 – Oct 7, 2018
The exhibition will be travelling to Kunsthall Trondheim, Norway in November 2019 and MAIIAM Contemporary Art Museum, Chiang Mai, Thailand in early 2020.