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Birmingham Museums showcases Bangladeshi artist in outdoor Exhibition

Main image: Credit: Lost Memory Eternalised © Mustafa Zaman

A new exhibition has opened in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square to mark the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence.

Lost Memory Eternalised showcases artworks and writing by artist Mustafa Zaman that explore the body, trauma, history and politics in Bangladesh.

Lost Memory Eternalised a collaboration between Birmingham Museums Trust and Dhaka-based Bengal Foundation, a leading Bangladeshi arts charity.

It is part of a shared artistic programme that marks the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence and is funded by British Council Arts through the Digital Collaboration Fund

Transforming Narratives Exchange Programme

The original development of and collaboration for this exhibition was made possible through Transforming Narratives as part of its exchange programme.

Just a month before the UK put in place a full lockdown to thwart the spread of Covid-19, Birmingham Museums Trust’s (BMT) Curatorial and Exhibitions Manager, Rebecca Bridgman and Learning and Access Manager, Andrew Fowles travelled to Dhaka and Lahore.

BMT’s visit was undertaken between 14 and 26 February 2020 with the key aims of meeting partners in Bangladesh and Pakistan, forging new relationships with artists and organisations and planning collaborative projects to mark the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence (26 March 2021) and celebrate the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

Bengal Foundation

The BMT team visited the Bengal Foundation, which provides a platform where artists, curators and researchers can exchange ideas critically and pursue their practice.

BMT and Bengal Foundation aim to build a long-standing partnership, incorporating exhibition development, skills and knowledge exchange.

“We were extremely fortunate and grateful we were able to undertake this research visit before the effect of the COVID-19 crisis became worldwide,” said Rebecca.

“[And] we’re delighted to be presenting the work of Bangladeshi artist, Mustafa Zaman which has rarely been seen outside South Asia. The images in Lost Memory Eternalised are at times haunting while others are beautiful, exploring Zaman’s theories about the body, trauma, history, and politics in Bangladesh and the wider world.”

Lost Memory Eternalised at Chamberlain Square, Birmingham

Another partnership forged by BMT during the exchange was with Bangladeshi artist Nafis Ahmed, who produced a project for Transforming Narratives Digital Collaboration Grants Programme with Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery as a partner.

Rebecca and Andrew also extended relationships with organisations from Pakistan and Bangladesh who they had met with in Birmingham in March 2019 as part of previous Transforming Narratives exchanges.

Artist Mustafa Zaman

Lost Memory Eternalised is the work of artist Mustafa Zaman who was born 1968 and is a significant part of the growing contemporary art world in Dhaka. His series Lost Memory Eternalised was made from found images and was inspired by a chance encounter when the artist discovered ants in his honey. The historic images overlaid with a torrent of drowned ants create haunting, poetic visuals to make us think about the impact of politics and history upon us as individuals.

“This series of images brings focus to the historical moments in Bengal which endured 200 years of colonial oppression,” Mustafa Zaman said.

“It addresses the trauma and alienation modern life has given rise to as the legacies of the past continue to haunt the people in this region. My primary goal was to create some imaginary relics through which to reach an eddy of thoughts and emotions.”

Earlier this year BMT and the Bengal Foundation hosted talks and film screenings by two internationally-acclaimed female Bangladeshi artists – Dilara Begum Jolly and Rubaiyat Hossain – which both focused on women’s rights and roles since 1971

Luva Nahid Choudhury, Director General at the Bengal Foundation, said: “We are excited that the programming developed in collaboration with the Birmingham Museums on the 50th year of Bangladesh’s independence culminates in the outdoor show of a series of photographic works by artist and art-writer Mustafa Zaman. We hope that this stimulating body of work will acquire new significance in the post-Covid era, in inspiring audiences to delve into the complexities of our time and reflect on social construct.”  

Lost Memory Eternalised is in Chamberlain Square until 14 November.

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