Organising conversations about relationships with the land around a table that gathers objects created during the talking – the artist Otobong Nkanga came up with this bright idea for the 2014 São Paulo Art Biennial, which has since come to China, the Lebanon, and soon to Bangladesh. For its first edition in Brazil, Nkanga created an unprecedented dialogue between geologists, social and environmental activists, farmers, and artisans. Discussions that brought to the surface the rich and complex relations between inhabitants and their land, such as access for the city homeless to drinking water, thanks to a historian tracing old rivers. Each table is themed, fittingly inspired by territories. In Beirut, the theme of the tables was the law, food, and the wall. In February, as part of the Dhaka Art Summit, it will be Bangladesh’s turn to explore its relationship with the land, here as elsewhere, dominated by the growth of cities, exploited and altered while humans depend on it. These exchanges break through stereotypes, accelerate the resilience of territories, and allow this great artist to act in the world with the greatest accuracy.

© Walid Rashid

From February 7 to 15, 2020, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

Find all the articles from Impact Art News n°11 — September 2019