Dhaka Bangladesh, February 4-8, 2016 | Professor John Zarobell
Art ought to be a means to overturn such expectations and to allow people to understand history and its relation to the present in a new way.
Last week, I traveled to Bangladesh to attend a unique visual arts event, the Dhaka Arts Summit. This was the third manifestation of a biennial festival that began in 2012 and I participated in the festival by moderating a large panel of curators and artists discussing the development of regional group exhibitions. Regional group exhibitions are controversial among artists and curators in the Global South because, while including them in a broader expanded understanding of modern and contemporary art, these museum shows nevertheless position them in the role of an exotic other for a western audience. Since the Dhaka Art Summit is itself a regional group show, billing itself as the largest festival of South Asian Art, it is clear that these projects have evolved since the 1980s, when the first exhibitions of non-western artists began to appear in European and American museums. Having a regional show take place in the region and unaffiliated with any museum, means that the terms are now more open to debate.