In 2009, Shumon Ahmed, a visual artist from Bangladesh, decided to accompany his Swedish friend, Jan Gruvborg, to the second largest ship-breaking yard in the world—Chittagong in Bangladesh. Little did he know that the photographs he clicked there, using a plastic medium format film camera, would go on to be featured at art exhibitions across the world, including the Kochi Muziris Biennale 2014. The artist’s project—a series of 12 photographs titled Metal Grave (an ode to the graveyard of ships)— deals with the place, the ships and the people involved. “The dead bird in one of the photographs represents the future of the young boys working at the ship-breaking yard,” explains Ahmed, adding, “My next project is to visit ship-breaking yards in India and Pakistan.”
Context is all
Talking about the 38-year-old’s work, curator Jitish Kallat says, “Shumon’s photographs are deeply moving meditations on transience and time. They are also reminders of deep maritime histories linked to this harbour and the shorelines of Kochi.”
Another Bangladeshi artist taking part in the Biennale is Naeem Mohaeimen, a visual artist and writer based in Dhaka and New York. He has brought down his work titled Kazi in Nomansland, an ongoing project recording the life of a Bengali Muslim poet Kazi Nuzrul Islam. “What caught my attention is that Naeem’s work is steeped in the life and politics of Bangladesh, and the contested histories of the subcontinent,” signs off Kallat.
Ahmed’s photographs are on display at Aspinwall House, while Mohaeimen’s work is on display at Durbar Hall. 10 am to 6 pm. Tickets from Rs.50. Details: 2215297
— Nimmy Merlien Philip