Tibetan Artists Silenced at Dhaka Art Summit: Ahmad Ibrahim

This is a guest post by AHMAD IBRAHIM

These pictures, which depict blank walls, are symbolic of the attack. Pictures of the original art cannot be shared due to copyright issues.

On the 7th of February, Tibetan artist Nortse and Indian artists Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam had their photographs and art installations removed at the behest of the Chinese ambassador to Dhaka from the Dhaka Art Summit taking place in Shilpakala Academy in the capital of Bangladesh. The art project by Nortse was titled Prayer Wheel, Big Brother and Automan (2007) which showed the artist don traditional Tibetan clothes along with modern objects to show the surveillance that marks their lives. .Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam produced a piece called “Last Words”, which consists of five facsmilies of five last messages written by the self-immolators in Tibet, along with their English translations. Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam depicted Tibetan monks in the act of self-immolation as a way of political and religious protest against the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese government. At the end of the 6th of February, both artists were still depicted on the walls of the Art Summit. On the 7th, what greeted the visitors and patrons were blank stretches of white wall with white frames. It was as if the works had never existed. This is not the first time the Chinese government has tried to shut down political art work that aims to show the real face of Chinese occupation of Tibet. What is even more reprehensible is that it happened inside the walls of an institution that was proclaiming itself to be a haven of bold art and artistic expression. That the Chinese government could go to such lengths to silence an exhibition happening thousands of miles away shows the depth of their oppression over an entire country. Since February 2009, 142 Tibetans have self-immolated in their homeland, 120 dying from their actions.

A link to Tenzing Sonam’s twitter:

A Facebook link to a picture when the exhibit was still standing. 

Ahmad Ibrahim is a Dhaka based journalist.

One thought on “Tibetan Artists Silenced at Dhaka Art Summit: Ahmad Ibrahim”

  1. Totalitarian regimes can go to any corner of the world to crush dessenting voices. The art summit which featured Tibetan art made China express its displeasure. Chinese government has trampled fundemental rights in its own country by illegal detentions of scores of human rights activists and opposition. Tibet has been a land of extreme repression after Chinese occupation in the fifties. Many tibetans were forced to either flee away from tibet or face persecution by the Chinese government, specially post-Mao regimes. Dhaka summit artists must express their solidarity withtheir Bhutanese counterparts and show their disapproval of this action by boycotting the summit.

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