Review by Irfan Ahmed
February 28, 2013


Crack International Art Camp 2012
Participating artists:
Asmar Atham, Aarthiee Kushawaha, Aishwaryan K,.Imran Nafees Siddique,Ishan Pariyar,,JayaShankar Son Shrestha, Rakesh Patel, Sabita Dangol,Sameer Rao, Satadru  Sovan Bhanduri,Shiblee Muneer,,Sunil Sree,Tapati Chowdhury,, Tayyaba Anwaar Ahmad,,Vipul Prajapati, Delwar Hossain, Ananta Kumar Das, Polash Chowdhury, Shakti Nomaan, Shaheen Mahmood Reza Rajon, Tanzim Ahmed Bijoy, Bizu Somoy, Afsana Sharmin Zhuma, Mazhar Ronni, Karishma Chowdhury, Rajib Ashraf, Sagor Zahid, Shawon Akand.

Curators: Satadru Sovon Bhanduri and Shawon Akand.
December 25–30, 2012, Kushtia, Bangladesh

Crack International Art Camp is a wonderful example of environment friendly artistic effort, where artists of various mediums from five different South Asian countries (India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) took part. Since 2007, this multi-disciplinary art camp is held on every year. This art camp of Kushtia was initiated by the efforts of various artists and cultural workers, under the leadership of artist and researcher Shawon Akand, and with the cooperation of artist Delwar Hossain. The nature of this art camp was a bit different from that of the conventional camps. This camp was out of the grandeur of corporate package. The organisers considered that, “here we give a tireless effort to adjust our life style with the artworks.” Their outlook was, “art is an intricate process and it is a part of our life. Every branch of art and culture is closely related to others. It is now important to synchronise between every sector of knowledge and culture through artistic applications. For this reason, our door is open not only for the artists, but also for the theatre workers, photographers, film makers, psychologists, poets, journalists, actors, social scientists and for any person from any profession or field interested in art and culture.”

The main theme or the concept note of this edition was “Achipur/Unconscious. What is the thing that the Bauls of Bengal calls as Achinpur? Where is that land? How are the dwellings there? Is it another name of what Freudian Theory calls “Unconscious”?  If that is so, then what will be the face and figure of it? Various artists created a number of artworks surrounding this central theme. The artists expressed various thoughts in their own ways regarding Achinpur/Unconscious through site-specific installations, video art and performance art. One of the main features of this camp is that, here the artists are encouraged to create various artworks by using different environment friendly local materials.

Kolkata-based artist Tapati Chowdhury created a big boat using wood, straw and other scattered materials found in the camp site. The boat was kept on land. Tapaticonveyed that the boat is a very important element in Bengali imaginations. As a medium of transportation or rescue, this boat metaphorically appears in songs, poems and simple ontological discussions. On the last day of the camp, the boat was burnt in fire instead of floating in the water. The work was titled Mon Poboner Nao (The Fairy Boat). In another work, Tapati used various doors in a figurative way. As if, you can reach Achinpur through any of the doors.

Sagar Zahid’s created an artwork which floated in the pond’s water. He created numerous figures of insects floating in water using the buckles of banana tree, dry parts from Dhundol flowers and jute stalks. They were floating on the green water as a symbol of countless desires and dreams hidden in our mind.

Sabita Dangol, an artist from Nepal, created a maze using jute stalks, and installed a self portrait inside it. Sabita wanted to convet that Achinpur is nothing, but an enigma to us. But we cannot deny its existence. Her work displayed a wonderful combination of Nepali culture and Bangladeshi materials available locally. Another artist from Nepal,Shankar San Sreshtha, in his two artworks presented the stages of the long journey from unconscious to conscious state. The materials used in his works were clay plates, plant leaves, flower petals, etc.

Indian artist Rakesh Patel created a site-specific installation. Here, it seemed, the audience had flown their unconscious desires in the form of soap bubbles. Rakesh wanted to convey thateach one of us has many untold desires, that float like soap bubbles around us. In the last day of the camp, the viewers’ participation was also part of this artwork.

At the juncture of land and water, Afsana Sharmin Zhuma, an artist from Bangladesh, created an installation, where there seemed to have a never ending emptiness in the centre. And it contained a touch of blue. This work was titledAchinpurer Swapnogahon Antoheen Pother Bhanjey (Unconscious mind driving through the infinite journey).

A short walk beside the pond and one would find a tree bent towards the road. On this tree, Aarthiee Kushawaha, an artist from Pune, has created a work called Dream Catcher, a cage to catch dreams, using fish catching bamboo basket, and a hammer and a cactus attached to a white color weaving with spider web appearance. We see a lot of things in our dreams. Some we can remember, and many we cannot. The artistwork indicated that she wanted to catch her loving and pleasant dreams.

Rajib Ashraf’s artwork had a white window and handprints of different color around that window. An intense desire to touch the untouchables was clearly apparent in his artwork. Another artist from Bangladesh, Karishma Chowdhury’s artwork was based on two dolls. From the branches of a small tree, branches almost close to the ground, she attached a number of little ringing bells and bird feathers and created a spell-binding environment. The central subject of her artwork was children’s world of imagination or childhood memories. The artists wanted to convey that a significant portion of our psychological sphere is developed during our childhood.

Beside the bank of the pond, an artist from India, Satadru Sovon created his site-specific installation on a scaffold using jute fibre, various digital prints and special light effect. His artwork created a magical dreamy environment. The artist also created another installation using various cloth pieces and nets.

One of the artworks of Asmar Atham, an artist from Sri Lanka, was based on light. In another work, he wanted to hold the unconscious in the intricacies of different colored balls with ropes. This young artist believes that, life is an intricate process. And Achinpur or Unconscious is also not simple and straight. He wanted to hold the unconscious in those intricacies.

Writer and poet from PakistanTayeba Anwaarcreated a graveyard, where the spectators wrote their nightmares and buried them forever. Tayeba wants everyone to live in peace, leaving behind their nightmares. Another artist from Pakistan, Shiblee Muneer placed a red circular cloth on the green horizon. In another artwork, he wanted to enclose the boundary using red cloth rags as lines.

Bangladeshi artist Palash Chowdhury created two site-specific installations. In these works, he wanted to express the recurrent thoughts regarding Achinpur or Unconscious in Baul traditions in Bengal. One of the artworks was titledShalupto (Self Extinction). With Ananta Kumar Das, he has created another installation entitled Achetoner Poth (Way of Unconscious).

Another artist from India, Sunil Sree worked with earth and clay and he planted various seeds. Shaheen Mahmood Reza Rajon, an artist from Khulna, Bangladesh, created a light effect with white clothes using small figures made of clay and structures of jute stalk.

Besides these, there were some artists who indulged in performances. A number of videos (art) also were made. In all these efforts, the camp tried to hold the places and people of Achinpur or Unconscious. It’s visible that the face and the figure of Unconscious vary from one artist to another. May be that’s natural.