Solo show remembers violence against women in 1971

Cultural Correspondent | Published: 00:00, Feb 09,2020


An installation view of Dilara Begum Jolly’s solo exhibition. — Sony Ramany

Noted artist Dilara Begum Jolly is known for her works that highlight histories and events in which women’s plights have been pushed to the periphery, of not totally either forgotten. She simultaneously returns to the site of the female body to address issues of gender, trauma and social catastrophes.

In the current solo, at the at Quamrul Hassan Exhibition Hall of Bengal Shilpalay in Dhanmondi, the artist works through the theme of suffering of Biranganas during the liberation war in 1971.

‘Parables of the Womb’, which saw its start on February 4, witnesses a bold exploration of the photography medium. It was inaugurated by Norwegian ambassador to Bangladesh Sidsel Bleken.

Marina Tabassum director of of Academic Program at the Bengal Institute for Architecture and filmmaker Shammem Akhtar attended the programme as special guests.

‘Women have always been the primary victims of wars. During our liberation war, women were raped and tortured by Pakistani occupation forces. Many died and those who survived are known as biranganas. They had to live with the memories of torture and rape for the rest of their lives. I have tried to portray their sufferings through my artworks,’ said Dilara Begum Jolly.

The exhibition features a huge installation made out of light boxes, sanitary napkins, cotton and other materials.

Two short video clips and a documentary titled ‘Jatharlila’ are being screened at the venue.

‘Jatharlila’ is Dilara Begum Jolly’s first film. The 40-minute documentary is based on the narrations of late writer and birangana Roma Chowdhury.

‘I have spent almost six years with Rama Chowdhury. The documentary gives viewers a glimpse into harrowing experiences of women at the torture cells during 1971,’ said Dilara Begum Jolly in an emotion-chocked voice.

The installation also includes different torture devices including electric chair, branks and others. Besides, she has portrayed forced abortions through a delivery table which she covered with pink sanitary napkins. Womb has been a recurring theme in Dilara Begum’s work, here it is used as a symbol of trauma and loss.

‘The sanitary napkins depict the uterus or the womb. During wars, Pakistan army raped women so that they could spread their genes through the war children. They did it to destroy the future of a nation. We should not forget the sacrifices of the biranganas, who had to sustain torture at the hands of the Pakistani occupation forces during the war,’ said Dilara Begum.

Dilama Begum is displaying 19 photographs of portraitures of biranganas in specially-made light boxes propped up on metal stands. Intensely pricked by needles to depict their pain, they are of a visual quality that can easily be linked to a deep sense trauma.

Dilara Begum Jolly emerged as a painter and printmaker in the 1980s and was member of the group Shomoy. Over the last ten or so years, she gradually veered into multidisciplinary practice that allowed her explore any chosen themes through various forms of performance, photography and even film.

Born in 1960 in Chattogram, she studied painting and printmaking from Government Arts College, Chattogram. She completed her masters in painting at the Institute of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka, in 1984. In 1991, she received a scholarship from the Indian government and completed a post-diploma in printmaking from Santiniketan.

The exhibition is open every day, from 2:00pm to 8:00pm, till March 28.

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