Closing out the inaugural Dhaka Art Summit, which ran from 12 to 15 April 2012, the Samdani Art Awards were given to Bangladeshi artists Khaled Hasan and Musrat Reazi. Both artists made an impact for their portrayals of dire socio-economic issues.

Khaled Hasan, 'Terror Beat of Acid', 2010, photography. Image courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation.

Documentary photographer Khaled Hasan was the winner of the Samdani Artist Development Award, and received the BDT1 million (USD12,000) prize for his work Terror Beat of Acid, a series of candid depictions of victims of acid attacks in the region. Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of acid attacks in the world, with around 3,000 incidences in the past decade alone. A majority of the attacks are against women, many under the age of eighteen. Hasan hopes to dispel the myth that acid attacks are used as a tool to aid religous extremism and gender repression in Muslim nations, while shining light on a pervasive and overlooked social epidemic.

Khaled Hasan, 'Terror Beat of Acid', 2011, photography. Image courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation.

Musrat Reazi, 'Moorong', 2010, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation.

The BDT500,000 (USD6,000) Samdani Young Talent Award was given to painter Musrat Reazi for her work, Moorong. The work was part of a series of the same name that captures the struggles of the Morang ethnic community in Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts. Reazi plans to continue her socially-engaged practice with a series of works on education problems within the Chakma and Marma ethnic communities. She was the winner of the AB Bank Award at Bangladesh’s eighteenth National Art Exhibition and currently works as an art teacher at the Khagrachhari Government High School.

Detail of Musrat Reazi, 'Moorong', 2010, oil on canvas. Image courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation.

The two winners were selected from a short list of 29 artists. In total, the Dhaka Art Summit steering committee considered 449 submitted works by the 249 showcased Bangladeshi artists. In addition to the monetary prizes, The Samdani Art Foundation will also arrange for six-month residencies for both winning artists, providing a studio and materials for them to continue their practice.

The 2012 Dhaka Art Summit was the first event of its kind to be held in Bangladesh. During the course of the four-day event, the summit attracted over 50,000 visitors including several international art curators, critics, artists and writers. In addition to the educational programming and lecture series, the summit was also a platform for direct-to-collector art sales, which Founder and Director Nadia Samdani hoped would compensate for Bangladesh’s lack of a gallery culture. In conjunction with the main exhibition at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, the Bangladesh National Museum organised a show of Modern masters from the country, while the independent art space Britto Arts Trust put on a showcase of contemporary Bangladeshi art. Samdani plans to turn the summit into a biannual event.


Related Topics: art prizes, Bangladeshi artists, art fairs, Asia expands

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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