Five Minutes for the Sundarbans
Long durational performance (7 hours) 2016
Material – white cloth, yarn, and black coal
Copyright Sumana Akter and Bengal foundation
“My childhood pond in my grandpa’s home can’t breathe now under the congregation of
dirt. I used to swim in its clear water for hours. When my mom tried to get me out of it, I
would swim across and land on the opposite bank.
Today, it has become the habitation of innumerable men. I feel suffocated. The big trees of our garden that I loved so much are no more. To cope with the growing family of my elder brother, those huge trees had to be cut down for accommodation. I mostly kept my pains hidden except once or twice feebly asking him if he could spare the trees.
In our efforts to modernise our life, we are destroying our environment with our own
hands. In trying to construct a role model of modernisation, we have gone to the extent
of ruining the Sundarbans that protects us in all catastrophes just like a mother.
Sumana Akter (1983) is a Dhaka-based artist, founder of the Daag Art Station and a lecturer at the Narayanganj Fine Art Institute in Bangladesh. Key themes in Akter’s work are environmental destruction, gender violence and state & societal repression. Akter uses a range of mediums including video, performance, stitch and drawing/painting. She often invites the audience to participate in her work, which is often playful or an act of protest. Akter has performed her piece “Scream” to passers by in the streets of one of the worlds most condensed cities, Dhaka.
“The ideas of these works are centered on my being but their expressions are universal. As I attempt to express myself in my work, our society finds an expression instead.
Born and brought up in a small town I have to struggle constantly with city life, and I am still struggling against the conventional ideas of life.
My artwork takes a critical view of social, environment, political and cultural issues. I often try to reference the history of my territory; my work explores the varying relationships between culture and engages subjects as diverse as the civil rights movement.
While I use a variety of materials and processes in each project my methodology is consistent. Although there may not always be material similarities between the different projects they are linked by recurring formal concerns and through the subject matter. The subject matter of each body of work determines the materials and the forms of the works. Most of the time I try to focus on logistical matters, urgent and immediate issues focusing on my performance, video and installation.
Nature gives whatever human beings want from Her, and She punishes us for our deeds – this is my belief.”