Departed Soul

Some years ago, I visited Mahamaya Dalim Bhaban with a friend. The building, which is in Chittagong, was used as a torture centre during 1971. When faced with memories —with histories— from buildings like this one our senses of perception must find new shape entirely. Perhaps the act of rereading history actually changes our understanding of reality, in a way.
Several families now live at Mahamaya. Most of them rent. At the time of our visit it so happened that a number of the chambers were not occupied. One of those empty rooms had been used as a torture cell. It was there, in the hollow, vacant apartment that I was led to chart a new cartography of their past. It was there, in the array of echoing voids that I was enveloped in a whispered dialogue with their previous reality. It was there that a murmuration of spectral images, human, physical, spoke to me of another creation-story for the present.
Wall, plaster, window, bars, door, lock, the light seeping through the air vent, above all, the total emptiness makes palpable the deadness concealed in the place. There I was, enveloped in that voiceless, lifeless vacuum, while the structures and particles of Dalim Bhaban created a new me. This performance, Amorar Akkhayn is the neverending story of that moment.
—Translation: Sadia Rahman


As the Body Speaks

Entitled, Deher Akkhayn, this body of work comprises materials used quilts, blouses, and petticoats. In the vernacular tradition of Nakshikantha or embroidered quilts, I have run tacking stitches over the swathes of cloth. Every execution of the stitch is reminiscent of pain, of a wound, visible or invisible, that scars our bodies as extraneous forcescontinue to write its dominance over the body and the interiority that it enshrines. I was inspired by my reflection on the direct and indirect experience of the body under layers of coverings. This led me to arrive at this gestural, performative, almost ritualistic method of needlework, rendering the processual engagement extremely meditative and visceral, to say the least. On the whole, the material and method combined become an expression of the bondage of female bodies to the structural customs and norms of society at its various layers.

Dilara Begum Jolly (b. 1960, Chittagong, Bangladesh) touches upon themes of gender, trauma and the female body. Initially trained as a painter, she has expanded her practice to include various media such as performance, video and sound. Jolly has developed a signature practice of needling on paper and, more recently, photographs – a painstaking process during which she draws motifs on paper, or highlights areas on photographs, through needle prickling. The work of Dilara Begum Jolly was included in the exhibition, A Beast, a God and a Line (Dhaka Art Summit, 2018). Bengal Foundation has organised several solo exhibitions of Jolly’s work, including Excavating Time (Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts, Dhaka, 2006), Threads of Testimony (Dhaka, 2014) and microtears’/Omorar Akkhan (Daily Star-Bengal Arts Precinct, Dhaka, 2015).