Good folks of Kolkata, attend the launch of a fascinating book, this weekend. Titled, Midnight's Third Child, it is the brainchild of eminent Bangladeshi author, Naeem Mohaiemen (born 1969). Mohaiemen’s artistry involves using film, photography, installation, and essays to research the many forms of utopia-dystopia (families, borders, architecture, and uprisings) in South Asia, radiating outward from Bangladesh’s two postcolonial milestones (1947, 1971). Several conversations in contemporary museums around the historic Non-Aligned Movement originated around the premiere of his three-channel film, Two Meetings and a Funeral (2017), at Documenta 14, Kassel.
The title Midnight's Third Child resonates with the essence of a Bangla phrase, chagol'er tritiyo baccha lafay beshi (the goat's third child jumps more) - a polite translation that unveils profound meaning. It tells the story of the youngest, the one who must leap higher, striving for maternal sustenance. This linguistic gem captures the resilience and clarity of purpose that emerges from being the last born. It is an allusion to the identity of Bangladesh as a nation born after India and Pakistan. It is also a sly reference to Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, intending to highlight Bangladesh as the titular third child.
Throughout its existence, Bangladesh has embraced a fluid identity, forever shaped by three distinct signs. First, it emerged as East Bengal under the wing of British India until the momentous year of 1947. Then came the era of East Pakistan, an integral part of United Pakistan, which lasted until 1971. And finally, after a fierce liberation war, Bangladesh triumphantly emerged as its own sovereign nation. But the idea of Bangladesh, still nascent and evolving, remains both contingent and contested.
Within this context of movements, reversals, and renewals, the notion of Bangladesh takes on a kaleidoscopic quality, ever-changing and constantly negotiated. It is within this backdrop that cultural workers hold the power to reinforce essentialist views or challenge the dominant narrative. They become the conduits of dissent, speaking back to power, questioning the status quo, and redefining the boundaries of artistic expression. Through the raw authenticity of their voices, these artists and movements carve a path toward a more inclusive and vibrant future.
The extraordinary anthology of essays in the book delves into the lives of artists and the pulsating movements that have shaped the cultural landscape of Bangladesh. With introductory essays by Tanzim Wahab and Zirwat Chowdhury, this collection becomes a vehicle for exploration, an invitation to dive deep into the complexities of identity and creativity within the discourse of the nation of Bangladesh. The book expounds on the power of artistic expression that transcends borders, igniting a fire that will continue to burn brightly, shaping the narrative of a nation, and inspiring generations to come. The book has been published by Nokta, Dhaka in association with the University of Liberal Arts (ULAB), Dhaka.
The book launch will also be graced by the presence of the talented and revolutionary Moushumi Bhowmik, a Kolkata-based singer, writer, and researcher who works across India, Bangladesh, and the UK. She collaborates with artists and scholars across varied disciplines and media. Her work is built around questions of home, borders, and freedom. Her art practice constitutes listening, recording, archiving, and performing constitute her art practice. Naeem Mohaiemen and Moushumi Bhowmik will be in conversation to discuss the premise of his new book.
Midnight's Third Child Book Launch
Date: June 03, 2023 (Saturday)
Time: 6 pm onwards
Venue: Experimenter – Ballygunge Place
Limited seats available. Click here to register.
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