The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe has changed almost everything. It has affected every aspect of life from man to man relation, politics, business to art and culture. The world is heading towards a phase called “New Normal” – a termed coined by World Health Organization. Now the question is – how will this New Normal be like? And what will happen to art in New Normal? To discuss about the future of art, Young Bangla organized ‘Let’s Talk on ‘Art in New Normal’ on June 28, 2020. Internationally recognized and nationally known artists and art organizers including Mahbubur Rahman, Rajeeb Samdani, Nadia Samdani, Ayesha Sultana, Sabyasachi Mistry, Samir Asran Rahman, and Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy participated in the event. They shared on how they are making the best use of their time within four walls of home and their struggles to find inspiration in isolation and what will the art world look like in new reality. The event was live streamed on Young Bangla facebook page. Shibu Kumer Shill, a member of CRI creative team, moderated the event.
Artist Samir Asran Rahman, Co-founder of Mighty Punch Studio, thinks that creative professionals like him won’t face too many difficulties in the post-Corona period. He generally develops animations for online platforms. He can work online from anywhere. He said that he had been missing his time in the studio and also the brain-storming sessions with his team. He added that for the growth of animation art in Bangladesh and to give young artists the opportunity to learn, setting up a modern institute is a must. Either the government or private agency can take the initiative.
Artist Ayesha Sultana whose work is being shown at the famous Tet Museum, believes that the struggle the artists are facing during the pandemic will be over soon. Since audiences cannot go to exhibitions at the moment, artists can resort to audio-visual media to showcase their art works. It is difficult to arrange traditional exhibition amid a pandemic. But it is easy to reach audiences through digital media. She thinks that Bangladeshi young artists must take their work beyond national boundary. Her advice for young artists is that to reach international audiences, they must link up with the contemporary art market.
Cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam Tanmoy who has been working on the graphic novel on Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, mentioned that young artists were well accustomed to the New Normal before the outbreak of Coronas. A large number of young artists have been in touch with the global art market through outsourcing platforms. They have been continuing their creative ventures staying at home for a long time. This has made them better prepared in terms facing the current reality called the New Normal. He further added that he is now leading a group named ‘Cartoon People’ whose members are currently working online from home.
Country’s leading art organizer, collector and Co-founder of Samdani Art Foundation Rajeeb Samdani shared his view that local young artists have the courage to face and overcome the economic challenges posed by the pandemic. As part of the New Normal, they are conducting all of their activities online. Their Foundation is organizing a workshop titled ‘Art around the Table’ with participation of artists and art enthusiasts in the country and abroad, highlighting on how to master art and photography. He also shared some of the unforgettable experiences he had while organizing the special exhibition ‘Lightening the Fire of Freedom’ on the life and work of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at this year’s Dhaka Art Summit. Co-founder and President of Samdani Art Foundation, Nadia Samdani shared her early experiences of organizing Dhaka Art Summit. She added, “Dhaka Art Summit is a unique art endeavor in Bangladesh in the sense that it has set an example that such events can be organized by government and non-government partnership.”
Artist Mahbubur Rahman and Sabyasachi Mistry reflected on the comparisons between traditional and digital art forms. Both opined that the more Bangladeshi artists embrace the newer forms, the more connected they will be with the contemporary world art movements. They must embrace digital form for the sake of art works they will need to produce in future.
All the artists were of the opinion that art has the power to connect people. People living in different parts of the world can understand the language of art and celebrate it. This appreciation of art will generate a sense of humanity in people which will encourage the artists to overcome the challenges of the New Normal.