Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the 'Souvenir Maker'
August 21, 2009
November 1, 2009

‘The One Year Drawing Project’ is an experimental drawing exchange that takes the form of an artists’ book, involving four of Sri Lanka’s most critically acclaimed artists- Muhanned Cader, Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan, Chandraguptha Thenuwara and Jagath Weerasinghe. It comprises 208 drawings created by the artists in response to each other’s works. From May 2005 to October 2007 these artists exchanged drawings via post between Jaffna in the north of the country and the suburbs of the capital Colombo. The concept behind the project is informed by the Surrealist’s technique of the exquisite corpse, whereby drawings are made in consequence to one another amongst a circle of artists. This simple process of giving and receiving a drawing gives rise to a process of artistic exchange in which each and every drawing contributes to a larger body of drawings. Were an artist not to respond then the chain of exchange would be broken. While each drawing is critical to the process, its existence is also interdependent on the drawing that precedes and follows it. It was commissioned and curated by Sharmini Pereira for the independent publishing house, Raking Leaves.

Mahbabur Rahman, 40, is a painter and performance artist, a key figure in the Bangladeshi art scene. He belongs to the generation of artists that began to practice in the 1990s and was instrumental in ushering in an experimental contemporary scene. Setting his performances within larger installations, Mahbub often uses his own body as material. Some draw from literary references – a performance titled Transformations (2004) is an enactment of a story by Bangladeshi writer and poet Syed Shamsul Haq about an indigo farmer who was forced to plough his field with his own body. Others comment on history – North South (2005) has Mahbub meditating on the legacy of partition in Bangladesh and elsewhere in the world. Mahbub’s works are about his presence within this specific environment of Bangladesh where he struggles to create conditions for work, for himself and for others around him.

The exhibition covers a decade of practice and has works from 1998 on display. Vidya Shivadas has curated this solo exhibition out of the Lekha and Anupam Poddar Collection.

In addition to these exhibitions, also on view will be Indian artist, L.N. Tallur’s work, ‘The Souvenir Maker’, a monumental work that brings into focus the notion of boundaries, or as its extended title goes, ‘Souvenir Maker: Designed in America, Conceptualized in India, Made in China, Sponsored by Korea. Yes, We Are Conditioned to Think Under Flags’, made in 2009. Churning out barbed wire, which instantly invokes images of aggressive demarcation of spaces, and allowing viewers to choose from 26 national anthems, Tallur’s patented ‘Souvenir Maker’ calls our attention to the machinations of creating fences and eventually borders. Perhaps, more than the ridiculous and highly devastating effects of borders, the artist is keener on helping us understand how they condition our very ability to think.