A new outdoor exhibition has opened in Birmingham’s Chamberlain Square to mark the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s independence with works that explore the dark history of colonialism and oppression.

‘Lost Memory Eternalised’ showcases artworks and writing by artist Mustafa Zaman that explore the “body, trauma, history, and politics” in Bangladesh.

Mustafa Zaman, born in 1968, is a significant part of the growing contemporary art world in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The conceptual images presented in ‘Lost Memory Eternalised’ was made from found images and was inspired by a chance encounter when the artist discovered ants in his honey.

The historic images overlaid with a torrent of drowned ants create haunting, poetic visuals to make the viewer think about the impact of politics and history upon individuals.

Lost Memory EternalisedMustafa Zaman
The material in the exhibition exposes the horror and oppression of “200 years of colonialism”

Zaman’s stark and haunting images are accompanied by his poetic essays, which further explore the themes depicted in his work.

Talking about the exhibition, Mustafa Zaman said: “This series of images brings focus to the historical moments in Bengal which endured 200 years of colonial oppression.

“It addresses the trauma and alienation modern life has given rise to as the legacies of the past continue to haunt the people in this region.

My primary goal was to create some imaginary relics through which to reach an eddy of thoughts and emotions.”

The Lost Memory Eternalised exhibition in Chamberlain SquareBMAG
The ‘Lost Memory Eternalised’ exhibition in Chamberlain Square

Rebecca Bridgman, Curatorial and Exhibitions Manager at Birmingham Museums Trust said: “We’re delighted to be presenting the work of Bangladeshi artist, Mustafa Zaman which has rarely been seen outside South Asia.

“The images in ‘Lost Memory Eternalised’ are at times haunting while others are beautiful, exploring Zaman’s theories about the body, trauma, history, and politics in Bangladesh and the wider world.

“The exhibition was developed jointly by Birmingham Museums Trust and Dhaka-based arts organisation Bengal Foundation and at a time when Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery is closed for essential work, we’re thrilled to be bringing art outdoors to Chamberlain Square.”

Lost Memory EternalisedMustafa Zaman
The ‘Lost Memory Eternalised’ exhibition also explores the landscape and people of Bangladesh

Luva Nahid Choudhury, Director General at the Bengal Foundation, said: “We are excited that the programming developed in collaboration with the Birmingham Museums on the 50th year of Bangladesh’s independence, which included talks and film screenings earlier this year, culminates in the outdoor show of a series of photographic works by artist and art-writer Mustafa Zaman.

“We hope that this stimulating body of work will acquire new significance in the post-Covid era, in inspiring audiences to delve into the complexities of our time and reflect on social construct.”

‘Lost Memory Eternalised’ is in Chamberlain Square, Birmingham from 20 October until 14 November.

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