Artepidia: Naeem Mohaiemen

Sunday, 20 July 2014 - 6:20am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Artist Name: Naeem Mohaiemen
Born: London (grew up in Dhaka)
Works and Lives: New York and Dhaka
Education: Oberlin College, Economics and History
Awards: Guggenheim Fellowship for Creative Arts (2014), Mario Merz Prize (2014)

Describe Naeem's work in three words?

Gallerists: Prateek and Priyanka Raja- Powerful, insightful and razor sharp-contemporary
Curator: Diana Campbell – Provokes new perspectives

A writer and visual artist, Naeem Mohaeimen works between Dhaka and New York City. He uses everything from essays, photography, film, and mixed media, found objects and sculpture to research histories of the international left and the ruptures in history. This summer has been a particularly interesting time for Naeem, as the artist opened a solo exhibition at the Kunsthalle Basel during Art Basel 2014. The exhibition is curated by Adam Szymczyk, the museum director and curator of Documenta 14 (2017). The curator came across the artists work during his visit to Bangladesh for the Dhaka Art Summit. The exhibition titled, 'Prisoners of Shothik Itihash' is the first comprehensive exhibition of Naeem's work in Europe. The show is almost a retrospective of sorts, bringing together some of the artists most important works from gallery, studio, private and public collections.

Naeem's work poignantly questions the efficacy of social and political activism and often makes references to Bangladesh's history and the war of 1971. He is specifically interested in the events surrounding the birth of the nation and the back and forth of power that happened through the 1970s.

Nameen's interest in political history expands beyond Bangladesh into movements across South Asia and around the world. The artist explores these episodes and applies this to contemporary thinking and movements.

Earlier this year, at the Dhaka Art Summit, the artist created a subversive single issue newspaper 'Shokol Choritro Kalponik'. The Bengali paper—whose title means "all characters are imaginary", reports from 2024, proffering a leftist point of view from the dystopia of daily life in Bangladesh. Naeem play's with the idea of historical narratives and the notion of individual truths. Viewers are encouraged to take copies of the paper. Curator Diana Campbell explains, 'I love how he takes things known as facts and flips them on themselves to make you question what you assume to know.'

Naeem's work has been collected by several important institutions both in the subcontinent and abroad, including institutions like the Tate Modern and British Museum. The artist has also has received a 2014 Guggenheim Fellowship in the "Creative Arts-Film-Video" category to work on the next chapter of his project 'The Young Man Was'.

Who is Naeem Mohaiemen looking at and why?
An artist I follow closely, and have collaborated with as well, is Zaid Islam. He is "prochar bimukh" (against publicity) so you won't find a lot of his work online. He marches to his own beat and is principled about not conforming to the rules of "being an artist." At a time when the visual arts are professionalized to the point of rubbing away rough edges and surprises, his stance is quite unique. Zaid is a photographer and curator whose heterogeneous practice spans spaces of energy within Dhaka life: photo-hacking a press event for a former dictator (face to face with his most famous victim), joining protest rallies against the garments industry's lack of accountability, graffiti projects on the eve of elections, self portraits that defy the logic of "selfies," and thoughtful essays about hyper-commercialization of Lalan Shah's mazaar.

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