Floating Peers

Participant list:


Anna Knappe(Helsinki-Finland), A.K.M.Ariful Islam(Rajshahi), Aranya Sharma(Cox’s Bazar), Buddho Dev Mondal(Khulna), Chang Wan Wee(Anyang, South Korea), Chikahiro Hanamura(Osaka-Japan), Farah Naz Moon(Chittagong), Farhana Preya(Chittagong), Hossain Mahmood Rocky(Chittagong), Joydev Roaja(Chittagong), Jublee Dewan(Chittagong), Kalle Hamm(Helsinki-Finland), Masaki Morishima (Osaka-Japan), Maruf Adnan(Chittagong), Mishuk Ehsan(Chittagong), Meherun Akter(Chittagong), Mong mongshay (Dhaka University), NHM Abu Bakar (Professor, Dept of Philosophy, CU), Partho Protim Saha(Khulna), Rita Leppiniemi(Helsinki-Finland), Sanjeev maharjan(Nepal), Sarita Dongol(Katmundo-Nepal), Shaila Jinnat Runi(Khulna), So Young (South Korea), Santanu Mondal (Rajshahi), Shipon Ali PK(Rajshahi), Suchayan Paul(Chittagong), Sultana Nashrin Mumu (Rajshahi), Sumit Chakraborty(Chittagong), Syeda Neegar Banu(Khulna), Yongsung Behck(Ansan city, South Korea), Yun Hee Choi(South Korea) Zihan karim(Chittagong),

About:

Floating Peers – 2013 is a project for socially engaged art practitioners produced jointly by Porapara Space for Artists, Bangladesh, and Artists’ Association MUU, Finland. Along with these two organizersCommunity Space Litmus from South Korea has been cooperating with the project as a partner. 37 participants from Bangladesh, Finland, India, Japan, Nepal, and South Korea will be participating in this event. The program will take place in the Porapara Space for Artists’at Patengaand in the urban environments of Chittagong city, Bangladesh.

The project consists of a series of workshops, in which the participating artists will develop and carry out community initiatives with street children and their families fromPatenga area (Charbasthi, Gucchogram, Dakshin Para, and Duria Para villages). Many of them have lost their own lands during the establishment of the Airport (now Shah Amanath International Airport) and the Military Air Force base (Now BAF Base Zahurul Haque). Their lands were seized under the administration of three consecutive governments, such as the British, Pakistan, and Bangladesh governments. But the said people always lost their possessions instead of nothing. Consequently, many people became landless and lost their homes. Now they are living illegally in a land of Chittagong port authority located near the conjunction of Karnafully and the Bay of Bengal. A large number of people who lost their homes during different natural disasters have also arrived in the area from the southern parts of Chittagong like Banskhali, as well as from some islands like Sanwip, Hatiya, and Urkirchar of the Bay of Bengal. In view of the fact stated above, the project has become involved, from both humanistic and artistic bases, with different issues of the day-to-day life of aforesaid victimized people.



The project´s target group is somewhat unemployed and partly earns their livelihood by hawking and small street businesses. Many of them live on the fringes of society without a permanent abode or basic necessities. They have their huts on the banks of the river Karnafully that face regular risks from tidal waves and floods during the flowing of yearly monsoon. Since the abodes of target groups have been built on the unauthorized land of said port-authority, they survive there with the regular threat of turning from the area. Thus, a kind of social instability deprives their children of school education and exposes young people in particular to all kinds of exploitation. As a result, the coastal tourist-favored Patenga area which is well known for its black market attracts them for easy earning with high risks and low salaries.

The aim of the project is to develop in cooperation with local artists and experts artistic means for working with these segments of the population in order to enhance their livelihood, the standard of living, and provide public exposure to the concerning issues. The main objectives of the project lie in grass root level potentials within the targeted groups for building their confidence and enriching the possibilities for a constructive and positive resolution for their situation. In contrast to NGOs who work in Bangladesh for developing sanitation systems, establishing free schools, providing medicines and free treatment, etc., the Floating Peers sets its goal for raising the mental strength of the targeted groups. It studies the innovative potential of artistic teamwork to transform the symbolic power of art into real-life social practices.

By engaging the artists to the deprived class of the society, the project also focuses on expanding the visible horizon of artistic activities in Bangladeshi society. Owing to the traditional character of the education system, the field of socially engaged art is marginal in Bangladesh. The project´s intention is, therefore, to engage artists from different countries in a peer learning process and to highlight them socially engaged art within the field of culture in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, this direction of socially engaged art can be recently seen in artistic projects made during the Shahbag protests in 2013, as a reaction to the events of the international War Crime Tribunal. For example, the artist facilitated public gestures to write letters to the people who died in the Bangladesh independence war in 1971 and sent them to the sky by gas balloons assembled spontaneously large crowds of people to collective performative action. The above and many other artistic and activist initiatives, like the large-scale candlelight protest for condemning the war criminals, that gathered millions of participants show clear examples of a deep-rooted bond between art, politics, and societal action.

The floating Peers 2013 is a project to discuss and implement this bond between art and society through inter-cultural collaborative fieldwork, artist talks, seminars, and open studio exhibition.


Program curated and coordinated by:

Artist JP Kaljonen(Helsinki-Finland)
&
Abu Naser Robii(Chittagong,Bangladehs)

PROJECTS:

Red Guardian

Red Guardian

Artists: Chikahiro Hanamura (JP) and workgroup: Masaki Morishima (JP) and A.K.M. Ariful Islam (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Karnafuli river bank in Gucchagram)

the villages of Gucchagram are located next to the riverbank of the Karnafuli River. In 2011 Chittagong City Corporation started to enlarge the bank to protect the villages at the Patenga shore from tide and floods of the rainy season. The bank is 750 meters long and was finished in 2013. Because the bank was built from soft sand material it got broken after one year. If the bank is not repaired the floods can lead to destruction and many deaths.

Because the bank protects not only the Gucchagram but also many other villages of the Patenga area it forms shared infrastructural space for the people of the area. Red Guardian is a project to turn the riverbank into a huge sculpture by sandbags placed on the bank to strengthen its structure for the long run. The sand’s backs are painted with attractive red color, forming 750 meters long body of a snake and to the end of the bank, the bags are composed to form ahead of the snake. In the rainy season, the snake sinks under the water, and when the season changes it comes visible again, transforming its color over time from red to beaten green.

The goal of the project is to protect the Gucchagram and other villages of the area but also to create a strong symbol for the Patenga. The snake will attract the tourists and by them, it can increase the livelihood of Gucchagram inhabitants.

The first stage of the project includes the snake’s head, made from 2000 sandbags which are painted red. Also designed plans for the whole sculpture and two scale models of a snake, first the whole snake in 1:5000 scale and the second, the snakehead in 1:1000 scale are produced during the workshop. The snake´s head at the bank and models are presented to the public at the Open Studio day. The plan is presented to the authorities and funders after the workshop in order to realize the bank sculpture in near future.


Gucchagram Photo Studio

Gucchagram Photo Studio

Artists: Syeda Neegar Banu (BD) and workgroup: Partho Pratim Saha (BD),Shipon Ali PK (BD), Shaila Jinnat Runi (BD), Bhuddo Dev Mondal (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Karnafuli river bank in Gucchagram)

The work Gucchagram Photo Studio is a portable photo studio in the Gucchagram village made from local materials like bamboo, jute, green leaves, painted curtain,s, etc. The workgroup will invite each family of the area to capture a family photo in the studio. After taking the photo the mounting paper framing the photo will be painted and the photo will be framed. On Open Studio Day the workgroup will hand over the photos to the families who can hang them on walls in their homes.

The second part is to sustain the project for the long run. The workgroup finds volunteers who can keep the studio and start h/her own business at the studio. The workgroup will provide h/her the basic training to take photos.

The background of the project lies in the fact that even people of particular areas are floating they still belong to their own families. They care about their family values and the Gucchagram Photo Studio provides them the possibility to record their family members. The project collects also microhistorical data from the people living in the area.


Portable Toy Boxes

Portable Toy Boxes

Artists: Joydev Roaja (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Open Studio Picnic Rally)

Roja’s work consists of the box-like house which is built on a Riksha wan. The box moves to the different parts of Guccchagram providing toys, papers, pencils, and other materials to the children of the Gucchagram slum. The work is a process-based long-term project and includes a Facebook site via which different people around the globe can send toys for the box. New portable box houses are built when each box has received enough toys.


Open Privacy

Open Privacy

Artists: Sarita Dongol (NP), Farhana Preya (BD), Jublee Dewan (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day; Drama at Patenga Sea Beach, Video documentation screening 7pm at BRAC scool in Gucchagram)

During site visits in the Gucchagram area, the workgroup found that women and children are not aware of their health and sanitation. They do not have education for maintaining their health and sanitation when they have a menstruation period.

When women of the area have periods they are very hesitant to share their privacy problems with family or even with their friends. Only 5% of women did know how sanitary napkins are used and properly putten to waste. They use old clothes for six or seven hours a day from three to seven months, which is very dangerous for them. They just wash the clothes during the period time and continue to use the same cloth which causes many hygienic problems.

The workgroup organizes workshops where they design sanitary napkins from the materials that the women from the villages can easily access. Women are taught how to make them from white cloths; white cotton; and plastic. The workshop is held in 10 villages of the Gucchagram area participating in 6 member families from each village.

The workshops are recorded on the video and the participants are also interviewed in order to study and develop the workshop in the future. Based on the issues that raise up during the workshops the workgroup also prepares community-based drama which will be performed inside a large woman figure that will be installed to Patenga Sea Beach for the Open Studio day. The drama is performed behind a white curtain that surrounds the women figure weist area as a shadow theatre symbolizing the sensitive and intimate issues the drama is dealing with. The audience can hear the speaks of the performers through loudspeakers installed to the women figure.


Habitat

Habitat

Artists: Chang Wan Wee (KR), Zihan Karim (BD), Mishuk Ehsan (BD), Sumit Chakrabarty (BD), Hossain Mahmood Rocky (BD), Shuchayan paul (BD)
(Screened on Open Studio Day 7pm at BRAC school in Gucchagram)

The workgroup makes an artistic music video featuring the people and their lives in the Gucchagram area. Together with the musical and narrative side, the video shows the facts about the background of the area, number of population, the illiteracy rate, and other relevant information about the people and conditions in the area. The aim of the video is to make the participants feel like rock stars and to distribute the video internationally by social media networks to give public exposure to the lives of the people of the area. The music used in the video is Beatles songs: Sgt. Pepper´s Lonely Heart Club Band and With a Little Help from My Friends. Besides the internet distribution, the video is given to the local participants who act in the video and screened to the inhabitants on the evening of the Open Studio Day in BRAC school in Gucchagram.


Secret Box

Secret Box

Artists: Mishuk Ehsan (BD), Hossain Mahmood Rocky (BD), Sumit Chakraborty (BD), So young (KR), Yun Hee Choi (KR)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at BRAC scool, in Gucchagram)

The workgroup provides small metal boxes to all of the children who are attending BRAC school in Gucchagram. The boxes offer private spaces for children, they can be locked and no one else than the owners will have access to them. The work provides children much needed personal stash, which is not available for them because of the tight and overcrowded living conditions at the Gucchagram area. Pencils, papers, and other creative materials are given to children inside the boxes.


Floating Comeliness

Floating Comliness

Artists: A.K.M. Ariful Islam (BD), Santanu mondal (BD), Shipon Ali PK (BD), Sultana Nasrin (BD), Buddho Deb Mondal (BD), Partho Protim Saha (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Open Studio Picnic Rally)

The workgroup will turn the wagons and baskets of the street vendors from the Gucchagram area used for selling green coconut, street foods, and other products at the Naval road area into works of art. Coconut trees will be installed into wagons and egg sellers’ baskets will be transformed into artistic shapes. The works attract the tourists visiting the area and increase the income of street vendors as well as raise the cultural value and richness of the area.


Garbage Bird

Garbage Bird


Artists: Anna Knappe (FI), Meherun Akter (BD), Maruf Adnan (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Patenga Sea Beach)

The Gucchagram slum is full of garbage and there is no working garbage collection and recycling system. The children living in the slum grow up playing in the trash and learn to throw everything on the ground. On Wednesday 20th of November, we will organize a cleaning day for the area and the children will pick up the garbage. To motivate them, we will arrange competitions with rewards so that the work becomes a play and picking up the garbage becomes a fun event. The garbage collected on the cleaning day will be sorted into different categories: recyclable trash which can be sold, the trash that can be burned, and the rest that don’t belong to previous categories. The trash which can be burned will be placed inside a big bird made of bamboo and paper. This garbage bird will be moved around the slum area on the cleaning day and everyone collecting the trash can participate in feeding the hungry bird. After collecting the trash the children will need to wash their hands with soap and then they will be rewarded with sweets.

On open studio and picnic day, the garbage bird will be transported with the picnic rally and taken to the sea beach where it can be used as a garbage bin for the picnic participants, and at 5.30pm in the evening, it will be set on fire.

As the goal of the Floating Peers is to enlarge the picnic festival the Porapara Space for Artists has been organizing with the villagers from 2003 to the Gucchagram village, the cleaning day will be held every year during the picnic festival. The bird connects the cleaning day also to the change of season. In winter many birds arrive in Bangladesh from northern parts of the globe.


Bicycles for Tea Sellers

Bicycles for Tea Sellers

Artists: Kalle Hamm (FI)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Open Studio Picnic Rally)

Hamm´s work concentrates on two tea sellers, Anwar and Gulab. They as many of their peers travel daily from Gucchagram to the Chittagong AirPort area spending around four hours per day moving and collecting water for tea. The equipment and products they sell weigh around 50 pounds and the sellers carry them around 5 miles per day. Tea sellers earn around 200-350 taka per day.

In his, work Hamm develops in cooperation with Anwar and Gulab bicycles designed for their business. The aim of the art piece is to make their work easier and increase their livelihood. In the work, two bicycles are transformed to serve tea sellers’ needs by adding different kinds of compartments and stands suitable for the tea selling business.


Pipe Garden

Pipe Garden

Artist: Rita Leppiniemi (FI)
(Exhibited at Open Studio day at Gucchagram)

In the Gucchagram area houses are built tightly next to each other leaving no place for plantations of vegetables. Also, floods and unstable conditions have reduced vegetable cultivation to a minimum.

In Leppiniemi´s project, she installed in cooperation with Gucchagram inhabitants decorated pipes filled with soil hanging horizontally from the roofs of the buildings. In the pipes, she planted different vegetables in order to increase subsistence farming in the area. The pipes are designed for the floating population and can be easily moved from one place to another.


The Mural

The Mural

Artists: Sanjeev Maharjan (NP), So young (KR), Yun Hee Choi (KR)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Bijoy Nogor)

The workgroup paints a mural on a wall next to the main road of Bijoy Nogor village. The mural combines fantasy and reality. It consists of large tree and portraits of the children of the Gucchagram area, which are identified by painted signs which tells their name and living area. The mural brings the children living in the slum area in the middle of the Bijoy Nogorians daily life and draws a connection between two villages located next to each other by location but which social and economical conditions are far from each other.

The background of the project lies in the fact that even people of particular areas are floating they still belong to their own families. They care about their family values and the Gucchagram Photo Studio provides them the possibility to record their family members. The project collects also microhistorical data from the people living in the area.


Bijoygram

Bijoygram

Artists: Abu Naser Robii (BD) and JP Kaljonen (FI)
(Gucchagram, Bijoy Nogor, Open Studio Rally, Patenga Sea Beach)

The work is a process-based art piece that aims for connecting Gucchagram and Bijoy Nogor inhabitants by enlarging the cultural festival organized by Bijoy Nogorians to the Gucchagram area. The festival consists of a public rally where villagers walk to the Patenga Sea Beach for a picnic. The festival is connected to Public Art Workshop´s Open Studio Exhibition annually organized by Porapara Space for Artists.

By joining the Gucchagram slum inhabitants at the festival the work aims for deepening interaction between two villages. The Gucchagram inhabitants are invited to the festival by a cow, which meat reduces the participation costs affordable for the new participants. The project culminates in a group photo where villagers are portraited together at Patenga Sea Beach.


Laldiarchor housing Fair

Laldiarchor housing Fair

Artists: Aranya Sharma (BD), Mong Mong Shay (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Gucchagram)

The workgroup works together with three families of the Gucchgram area and builds and renovates their houses and yards to a more comfortable and aesthetic state. The results are shown at Laldiarchor Apartment Fair which is organized during the Open Studio Day at Gucchagram. The fair includes flyers and other fair-related materials which showcase the transformation of the houses and yards to the people of the Gucchagram area and other visitors. Since the picnic festival is planned to be organized annually also the Laldiarchor Apartment Fair aims to sustainability and will be organized annually creating new cultural content for the area.


A Sound, The History

A Sound, The History

Artists: Farah Naz Moon (BD)
(Exhibited at Open Studio Day at Gucchagram Photo Studio)

Moons project is a sound installation concentrating the knowledge of an old man named Rakhal, who belongs to the floating population of the area. The man moved to the area from India just after the independence of Bangladesh in 1975. Rakhal is a poor man but an integral part of the history of the area. The installation consists of interviews of Rakhal where he tells about the area and its inhabitants from 70¨s to the present. The work is installed to Gucchagram photo studio, BRAC school, and to the Open Studio Day picnic area providing the Gucchagram inhabitant’s knowledge of the turns in the history of the area.


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