The name, "Ninu Nina" stems from the alien language spoken by Robin Williams in "Mork & Mindy" ( a popular 1970's comedy show).


Here are some highlights I've gathered from several interesting publications on the Dhaka Art Summit  ( the world's largest  platform of South Asian Art) that took place last month and which included representatives from the Tate Modern, Guggenheim, British Museum, Centre Pompidou, and many of Mumbai and Delhi’s artists and collectors. Here is an insider's guide by Nadia Samdani ( founder of the Dhaka Art Summit). The summit included fourteen solo projects commissioned by the Samdani Art Foundation to photography shows, performance art shows, and experimental film screenings—along with 33 international galleries featuring South Asian artists. The original Summit, which was held in 2012, had focused primarily on art from Bangladesh, but its success has cultivated ambition (The New York Times reported 50,000 people attended).

Rana Begum Dhaka Art Summit
Rana Begum Dhaka Art Summit

Solo projects: 

  • Rana Begum (born 1977 Sylhet, lives and works in London) Lodged between op-art and minimalism, Rana Begum’s works reflect the repetitive geometric patterns within Islamic art and architecture. Begum will be returning to her childhood fascination with basket weaving, creating a monumental sculptural dome that references light in the Koran and immerses the viewer in an innovative play between light and shadow.
  • Lida Abdul (b. 1973 Kabul, lives and works in Kabul and Los Angeles) Lida Abdul’s solo project will highlight four poetic films from 2005 and 2006 that highlight the power of belief to spur regeneration even in the most dire of circumstances.
  • Rathin Barman (b. 1981 Tripura, lives and works in Kolkata, India) Rathin Barman’s solo project Landscape from Memory (Situation 1), recontextualizes rubble and debris from around the city of Dhaka into a monumental sculpture that commemorates Dhaka’s past, and provides hints at its future.
  • Shilpa Gupta (b.1976 Bombay, lives and works in Bombay) Intrigued by the history and ongoing evolution of Bangladesh/India border, Shilpa Gupta has embarked on a research-based commission for her DAS solo project. This new project looks at the formation of territories under the project of nationhood.
  • Runa Islam (b. 1970 Dhaka, lives and works in London) In her rarely presented 16 mm film Untitled (After the Hunt), 2008, Runa Islam explores the camera’s implication in the process of representation. Engaging a macro lens to film an inherently out-of-focus photograph, the film both attempts to decipher and obscure the desire to understand a photograph in which the subject is mute. As an exploration of these themes, and of the relationship between film and still photography, the film acts as a precursor to her seminal 35 mm film Emergence, 2011. The DAS will present this work in Bangladesh for the first time.
  • Jitish Kallat (b. 1974 Bombay, lives and works in Bombay) Jitish Kallat’s recent work has focused on the idea of time and life-cycles and invites viewers to find themselves within the work. Kallat will be exhibiting two works in his solo project for the DAS, one old and one new; the two placing the viewer between night and day, and between immediate and eternal.
  • Tayeba Begum Lipi (b. 1969 Dhaka, lives and works in Dhaka) Tayeba Begum Lipi is creating a new installation called A Room of My Own that shares her silent journey over the years, fighting her own body and soul in the wish to conceive a child, and the work will provide a deeper understanding to her practice as a sculptor and the richness of her life experience.
  • Naeem Mohaiemen (b. 1969 London, lives and works in New York) Extending his work on contradictions of “shothik itihash” (correct history), Naeem Mohaiemen is creating a poignant new commission titled Shokol Choritro Kalponic (Bengali for “all characters are imaginary,” a disclaimer sometimes shown before television drama serials) that takes form of a Bengali newspaper with dystopic news items replaced by alternate realities.
  • Mahbubur Rahman (b. 1969 Dhaka, lives and works in Dhaka) Mahbubur Rahman will create a new installation titled A Space for Rainbow that will provide a space for warriors to become lovers, and to think about a covenant of peace and happiness, reflecting on the multiple meanings of the symbol of the rainbow from Christianity to gender equality.
  • Rashid Rana (b. 1968 Lahore, lives and works in Lahore) In his new work for the Dhaka Art Summit, Rashid Rana will expand upon his Transliteration and White Cube series, creating a monumental installation that reflects his current reality of being an artist from Pakistan, but being integrated into the western exhibition model of the white cube.
  • Mithu Sen (b. 1971 West Bengal, lives and works in New Delhi) For her new multi-media commission for the Dhaka Art Summit, Batil-Kobitaoli (Poems Declined), Mithu Sen is undertaking research to collect, read, and deeply study unpublished/rejected works by aspiring Bangladeshi poets, trying to recover the marginalized emotions of identity-less poets whose words could not cross institutional barriers.
  • Tsherin Sherpa (b. 1968 Kathmandu, lives and works in Oakland) Nepalese painter Tsherin Sherpa will present three new paintings that explore the relationship between Tibetan tradition and identity in 21st century, and exploring Tibetan Buddhism’s history with Bangladesh.
  • Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969 Lahore, lives and works in New York) Focusing on Sharjah’s unique location at the Strait of Hormuz, and the area’s historical power tensions, Parallax is inspired by the idea of conflict and control. Visual vocabulary is culled from drawings and paintings to construct the animation, giving the motifs and symbols a shifting identity as they come together within the digital space. This project is made possible with the support of the Sharjah Art Foundation.
  • Asim Waqif (b. 1978 Hyderabad, lives and works in New Delhi) Asim Waqif has been interested in different forms of protest in his work, and he has envisioned a floating sculpture spelling “No Fly Zone” in cane, rope, and helium balloons for Dhaka that is inspired by the intense protests that happened all over the world in 2013, including those in Bangladesh.
  • Meanwhile Elsewhere A public art project by Raqs Media Collective -Taking over 160 road signs and billboards across Dhaka, Raqs Media Collective will make a new work continuing their work with horology, and transforming Dhaka’s infamous traffic-filled roads with clock faces whose hands point to innovative word plays in Bengali.
  • Experimental Film Screenings

Akifa Mian (Pakistan), Aung Min (Myanmar), Camp (India), Iram Ghufran (India), Ittukgula Changma (Bangladesh), Kabita Josi (India), Kaveh Ayreek (Afghanistan), Mohamad Khadem Haidri (Afghanistan), Molla Sagar (Bangladesh), Rahraw Omarzad (Afghanistan), Saiful Islam Jarnal (Bangladesh), Saiful Wadud (Bangladesh), Shamin Nizam (Maldives)

  • Performances

Arko Sumon (Bangladesh), Bandh Manamperi (Sri-Lanka), Htein Lin (Myanmar), Nikhil Chopra (India), Nilufar Akmut (Pakistan), Rahul Anand (Bangladesh), Reetu A. Sattar  (Bangladesh), Sunil Sigdel (Nepal), Yasmin Jahan Nupur (Bangladesh)


Yasmina Jahan Nupur, Sat on a Chair, 2014. Performance at Dhaka Art Summit, Dhaka, 2014. Image courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation, Dhaka. Photo by Natasha Ginwala