Rivoli – Palco do Grande Auditório
Keep calm and learn Bangla

Chaired by

Shumon Basar

The European and American sense of entitlement and dominance of history pivots on the idea that theirs are the stories that matter. The artist and essayist Naeem Mohaiemen was born in London, the son of Bengali parents, and grew up in the newly independent Bangladesh. In his artistic practice - which combines essays, installations, fiction films, and documentaries – he is inspired by remaking stories, which often address peripheral narratives, failed socialist utopias and processes of decolonisation.

In this artist talk, moderated by the writer, thinker and cultural critic, Shumon Basar, Naeem Mohaiemen, who was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2018, will talk about how he grew up, just like any other child in Bangladesh, learning Bangla as a form of heritage and duty, while English was contraband and escape. Somewhere along the way, English became a proxy for a tortured idea of modernity. In his work, there is a constant, particularly complex, relationship between anthropology, history, and the moving image. His films are in English, but some criticise this option because they think it means Mohaiemen accepts the conditions that capital imposes on the circulation of culture: above all, efficiency. The English language, which underpins the flows of culture, melds with the triumphalism of capitalism as world culture. On the other side are the willing fields: cities and peoples, hungry to learn this culture. The artist states: “We think of ourselves as part of a “we” because the last century’s project was of monoculture.”