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Thinking outside the box

  • Published at 06:12 pm January 6th, 2019
Mediations Biennale
Snippets from the exhibition. Photos: Courtesy

A bridge between art, science, and technology?

Art - a tangible asset used to portray thoughts, imagination, and messages - has a positive impact on society. It consists of various forms, methods, and categories. We are familiar with a few common norms as we get to see the work of great minds on different platforms. As Pablo Picasso said: “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Artists try to remain artistic through their work, but as the surroundings notice them climbing the ladder, they pull them back down. Fraudulence, lack of connections, and newly-formed laws are used instead of leashes.

As we speak of a vast network of platforms, this sector is developing in many countries, giving the opportunity to deserving artists. Biennale Foundation, an organization that has been conducting exhibitions over the past decade, provides a yearly platform for artists to participate and share a piece of their minds with the ones who appreciate it. Mediations Biennale has been displaying praise-worthy talent every year. Their prime focus is on the progress of civilization, which has had a huge impact on art.

Along with hosting exhibitions, Mediations Biennale is looking for a dialogue with a creative audience, shaping new phenomena, and artistic movements, such as Game Jam (a kind of Hackathon). Their partner is PGA (Poznań Game Arena), the largest computer games and new communication technology fair in Central Europe, where they implement part of their project and GIC (Game Industry Conference), with which they co-create their conference.

Games are a new area of art, also considered as a medium of communication, a stimulator, and a mirror of reality. Mediations Biennale started experimenting with this particular area claiming they will be a bridge between art, science, and technology in cooperation with similar partners from around the world, participating in creating the vision of tomorrow.

Marking its 10th anniversary, Mediations Biennale 2018 was inaugurated on October 11 and ended on October 14. The event was divided into two parts -- an exhibition presenting over 50 artists and an interactive digital and analog art exhibition. The program was held at the Archdiocesan Museum in Poznań.

Tomasz Wendland was the art director of this event. Patryk Lichota, Artur Kłosiński, Aleksandra Lison, Wen-Chi Wang, Yang Ya Siang, Arkadiusz Marcinkowski, Martyna Rzepecka, Damian Komorowski, and Paweł Jaskuła were the curators.

Referring to the concept of art and a show of distinguished games, they initiated the international Crystal Canvas Game Graphics (CCGG) for the first time in Poland, with the aim to connect with the pop-culture professionals and youth audience -- particularly with ones whose interests are a statement of the present mass culture, interests, innovations, and human advancement bringing social changes.

Bangladesh has always surrounded its art with the social and political transformations the country has gone through. Though the art of Bengal had fallen during the British rule, the political and social movements during the 1940s and Language Movement created a moral responsibility for artists to express them through aesthetic frameworks. Among many, Zainul Abedin, Safiuddin Ahmed, S M Sultan, and Quamrul Hassan were responsible for an adaptation of modernist art to address the environment and society of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

Artists represent culture, culture represents a country but in recent times our society is going towards a strange path. It is a shame that we can’t represent our artists

Folk art has been an inspiration for most artists -- ‘The Famine’ series of 1943 by Abedin has remained a permanent feature of his works, but in 1952, they represented Bengali identity with simplification of forms, primary colours, and lines of folk art.

As a consequence of the Liberation War and killing of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975, followed by the military dictatorship, religion became a strong aspect in politics. All these provoked a rise in the number of female artists showing feminist concerns -- portraying art, politics, and traditions in connection.

Bangladesh, with its historical transformations, has created a tradition which played an important role in art -- acting as a catalyst revealing the identities of many artists. The developing characteristics of the Bangladeshi art are expanding towards the global front and show a mixture of traditional and modern art, making way for Bangladeshi art to have a distinctive name around the globe.

Out of the 50 artists who participated, we reached out to a Bangladeshi artist. Mihir Moshiur Rahman, a former student of the Department of Fine Arts of Dhaka University, now lives in Poland where he is pursuing his second Master's degree on animation. We were able to get a hold of him and conducted a short interview. Here’s what he had to say:

To begin with, who/what inspired you to pursue this line of work?

From a very young age, I realized that I can never bend under our typical societal pressure of becoming a doctor/engineer. However, I never thought that I would become an artist. It was easy for me to think about art, I loved it.

How long have you been doing this for?

If you are talking about my academic period, then I have to mention the duration of my study program. But if you are asking about how long I have been practicing, then I must say I can’t give you a specific timeline, because it started when I was a school-going child. Sometimes, I copied comic books or designed t-shirts. It started spontaneously, so putting a definitive start date or time isn’t possible. Besides, art does not belong to a specific form or media, so artists experiment with different media in their lifetime. An artist can never explore these media within a specific timeline, he can change his media or his timeline as he wishes.

In Poland, to what extent is the art scene different from that of Bangladesh?

Actually, it is very similar in some areas, again very different in others. Media or the presentation of Polish art vastly differs from our art, but the content or topic is the same. Polish art not only has a similarity with Bangladeshi art but also with global arts. Artists represent culture, culture represents a country but in recent times our society is going towards a strange path. It is a shame that we can’t represent our artists. The most prominent difference is that Bangladeshi artists are storytellers, but Polish/European artwork is minimalistic.

How can we bring a change in this scenario?

It depends on how you define change. In general, we think artists are outsiders, but actually, they are very much a part of our growing society. Artists are the most sensitive people in our society. So to change the art scene, society needs to be changed. I am concerned about the development of art in our country. In my eyes it is static, so collaboration among all media artists should be encouraged to develop this change.

Mihir Moshiur Rahman is a student at the University of Lower Silesia.