At a dinner in Venice on Thursday night, the Samdani Art Foundation, established by the Bangladeshi collectors Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani, unveiled plans for a permanent space. Srihatta–Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park will be located in Sylhet, a rural area in Northern Bangladesh, about 150 miles from Dhaka, and is set to open in late 2018 with several artist commissions in its sculpture park.
The Samdani Art Foundation is best known for its Dhaka Art Summit, a biennial that launched in 2012. Srihatta will be the foundation’s first permanent space.
The space will be comprised of a 100-acre sculpture park, 10,000 square feet of artist residency spaces, 10,000 square feet of plazas, and a 5,000-square-foot gallery designed by Dhaka-based Bangladeshi architect Kashef Mahboob Chowdhury, URBANA. Its buildings, which will incorporate brick to echo local buildings and will have living roofs (plants and grasses), will be designed to embrace the surrounding natural landscape.
The sculpture park will feature a large sculpture by Pawel Althamer completed this past February. Althamer brought some of his collaborators from Brodno, in Poland, to work with patients of a local drug rehabilitation facility in Sylhet to create a seminar and build a sculpture of a reclining woman made from locally woven palm fronds over bamboo. Upcoming artworks for the sculpture park will include one by Monika Sosnowska (a continuation of a collaboration between Srihatta and the Brodno Sculpture Park in Poland), and a piece made out of Bamboo by Indian artist Asim Waqif that will function as a musical instrument activated by wind. Other artists, including Raqs Media Collective, will also do projects in the park.
Sylhet is accessible by a 10-hour direct flight from London, which could make Srihatta popular with international travelers.
Although Srihatta’s gallery–which will have no admission fee–will feature rotating exhibitions that the foundation’s artistic director, Diana Campbell Betancourt, will curate from the 2,000 works in the Samdanis’ South-Asian-focused collection of modern and contemporary art (the first show will feature works by international artists Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Anthony McCall, Ceal Floyer, Shahzia Sikander, and others), Betancourt emphasized that Srihatta is “not a private museum.”
“We do not believe that Bangladesh needs a private museum,” she said. “This is a community space where we can all engage with art on equal terms.”
Renderings are below. All renderings are by Kashef Chowdhury/URBANA. Courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation. The images are as follows: Exterior of the residency (above), exterior of the gallery, interior of the gallery, interior of the residency. The final image is Pawel Althamer’s completed commission for the sculpture park (Pawel Althamer, Rokeya. A Sculptural Congress: Pawel Althamer and the Neighbours, 2017. Courtesy of the Samdani Art Foundation. Photography by Noor Photoface.)