Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation –
A movement and a foundation

On 28 March 2019, Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation hosted a reception in Hong Kong with the new Program Director, Dr Thomas Berghuis . The following text is from the speech that Dr Berghuis delivered during the reception
Last year, September 2018, Durjoy Rahman and I were in Berlin, speaking about Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, following the successful donation of a seminal installation by artist Mithu Sen, Museum of Unbelongings (MOU), 2018, to the Kunstmuseum in Wolfsburg. It marked the early beginnings of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.
In October 2018, the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, together with the Lahore Biennale Foundation, co-supported the participation of artist Firoz Mahmud in the inaugural Bangkok Art Biennale.

During the same time, I was working with Durjoy Rahman on developing the important vision and mission of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the foundation is to be grounded on the important principle of becoming an ‘artists-to-art-led foundation’.

Many of you who know my work, know that I have substantiated my own practices and experiences in curating and researching contemporary art, by working closely with artists, often realizing new artworks in international and inter-historic contexts.

The concept of an ‘artist-to-art-led-foundation’ is very much the principle on which Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation started to develop.
Photo Courtesy: Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation
Aside from Mithu Sen, in Wolfsburg, I met Shireen Gandhy, director of Chemould Prescott Road (who is also here with us today), and who took me to another seminal work by Mithu Sen: The Same River Twice, of 2013, set in a beautiful circular, purposefully built gallery space.

The work, consisting of an indicate series of drawings was first created and exhibited as part of a series of five exhibitions curated by Geeta Kapur, commemorating 50 years of Chemould.

Consisting of five exhibitions, brought together by the title and concept of the Aesthetic Bind, these exhibitions connected, what Geeta Kapur stated in her introduction as the process to: “wrests death’s agency and struggle on the very ground of painting” – as witnessed in the work of the late artists Bhupen Khakhar.

“More cannily,” as Geeta Kapur writes, “he [Bhupen Khakhar] exposes such diverse forms of subjection that are reproduced in death’s name by sacred, sovereign and aesthetic regimes.” (Kapur, Aesthetic Bind, 2013: 10)

It is these ‘sacred, sovereign and aesthetic regimes’ that I would like to summon on today, as we continue to face desires, tragedies; life and death.
Photo Courtesy: Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation
As Durjoy Rahman recently said to me: “how, in this consumer-driven world we tend to miss a lot of our surroundings. Until we encounter sudden changes, which take us by surprise and lead us to contemplate life and death – and hopefully also leading us to consider new ways of bringing our communities together.”

As our mission states, Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF) is established to support the ambitions of artists and art practitioners who see the world differently and who generate a new way of shaping our world and our future.’

When Durjoy Rahman first came to me and told me about setting up a foundation, I must admit that I was a bit hesitant at first. Especially thinking about the presence of yet another private art foundation.

I was raised with a public art system in which the state looks after art. Yet, I have also witnessed this public system break down, and many artists struggle to make ends meet in an increasingly limited art world. When the public system fails, sincere investment becomes fundamental. When Durjoy Rahman and I first spoke, we spoke about setting up a movement, not only a foundation.
Photo Courtesy: Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation
Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation aspires to be a conduit and a current on which to position artist and art from South Asia – connecting the Global South (South- and Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Pacific) – into the North, and particularly into Europe.

With its bases in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Berlin, Germany, Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation will provide a conduit for artists and art practitioners to develop and advance their work; to have their voices heard, and their artworks featured in exhibitions and programs.

We thank you for your support, as each of you brings valuable insights, experiences, and contributions through your work, striving to position art and artists from across Asia and across the world, inside critical, diverse, and progressive new perspectives. As Durjoy Rahman and I both agreed when we first came together to establish Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation: “we wish to be part of a movement to support art and artists to gain better recognition in contemporary society – to participate in a movement towards emancipation, to bring social change and development, and support social and artistic resilience.”
Photo Courtesy: Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation
When asked Who? Who is Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation? We hope that you mention us as part of a broader movement that we collectively strive for, and which is our ambition; namely to be a foundation and a movement to “support the ambitions of artists and art practitioners, who see the world differently, and who generate a new way of shaping our world and our future.”
On 28 March 2019, Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation hosted a reception in Hong Kong with the new Program Director, Dr Thomas Berghuis . The following text is from the speech that Dr Berghuis delivered during the reception