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oletha imvula uletha ukuphila

“They who brings rain, brings life” IsiZulu proverb

Rendered Perspective of the rain-making installation in it’s most complete form on Day 1.


Taking place at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy from 3-11 February 2023, the Dhaka Art Summit (DAS) is a hub for contemporary art in South Asia and one of the largest contemporary art events of its kind. A bridge connecting Bangladeshi artists to the rest of the world, the Summit is arranged around a series of intersecting exhibitions, and in 2023 it will bring together over 120 local and international artists and architects including: Rana Begum, Bhasha Chakrabarti, Simon Fujiwara, Antony Gormley, Yasmin Jahan Nupur, Ashfika Rahman, Joydeb Roaja, Rupali Gupte and Prasad Shetty, Lapdiang Syiem, Anpu Varkey and Sumayya Vally.

The DAS, titled Bonna, will explore the theme of Bangladesh’s climate, and how this has shaped the country’s history, identity and culture. As both the word for ‘flood’ and a girl’s name in Bengali, Bonna will examine the multiplicity of meanings around weather and water through the lens of Bangladeshis, as both life givers - bringing regeneration and renewal - and takers. Wielding the comings of rain is a tradition practiced by cultures across geographies. To possess the power to command rainfall is by inference possessing the power to dictate the flow of the natural cycle and climatic conditions. Across Southern Africa, rain-making rituals are directed towards royal ancestors as they were believed to have control over rain and other natural phenomena. One of these rare and powerful individuals is the Moroka of the Pedi tribe in South Africa. Moroka means; the traditional rain-making doctor.

Inspired by the IsiZulu proverb ‘Oletha imvula uletha ukuphila’ (They who brings rain, brings life), the pavilion is a response to to the local context and draws cultural parallels with the importance of rain in Bangladesh as the most important catalyst for agricultural production in the country. Clay gourds and pots are assembled to form a temporal space formed by fired and unfired clay pots. Over the course of the installation performances drawing on the traditions of rain-making and harvest will be hosted in the space. These rituals include the use of water, dissolving the unfired pots to revealing areas and niches of gathering contained by the fired pots. A calendar of event, performance and maintenance is marked.

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DAS 2023

About Dhaka Art Summit

An international non-commercial research and exhibition platform for art and architecture related to South Asia, the Dhaka Art Summit seeks to re-examine how we think about these art forms in a regional and wider context, with a focus on Bangladesh.

Founded in 2012, DAS is produced and supported by the Samdani Art Foundation and its network, with additional support from the Bangladesh government through the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, People’s Republic of Bangladesh, and partnerships with the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy as well as the National Museum and National Art Gallery of Bangladesh.

Rejecting the traditional biennale format, the Summit’s interdisciplinary programme concentrates its international reach towards the advancement and promotion of South Asia’s creative communities both past and present. Led by Chief Curator Diana Campbell, local and international collaborators are invited to unlock new areas of inquiry through exhibitions, experimental writing initiatives, film and talks schedules, all supported by an ambitious commissions programme. Other initiatives, including the Samdani Art Award for emerging artists and the Samdani Seminars programme—which hosts lectures and workshops by international arts professionals—express the Summit’s developmental commitment to the local arts community.

DAS has innovated an entirely new modality for bringing together art and arts professionals. Given the breadth and depth of the exhibitions and auxiliary programming nurtured within its doors, DAS meets at an intervention between intervening kunsthalle and pioneering think tank, structuring an art event that exists in terms unparalleled within the scope of South Asia. By connecting South Asian practitioners and artworks to both the Bangladeshi general public and the wider world, free from the reliance on commercial channels for mobility, DAS has fostered important new inquiries into Modern and Contemporary art in the region.

For further information, images or interviews, please contact: Laura Callendar Rel Hayman Ginevra Berghinz To keep up-to-date on all the latest from the Samdani Art Foundation and the Dhaka Art Summit, follow @DhakaArtSummit on Twitter, @samdaniartfoundation and @dhakaartsummit on Instagram