Curtain falls on ‘Letter to the City’

Published : 03 Jul 2022 08:38 PM

Over the weekend (Friday, Saturday) the artistic event "Letter to the City" was held at Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed Park's library space in Dhaka's Gulshan-2.

Dhaka Memory, an experimental collective of artists and architects, hosted this event, with the support of the German Embassy in Dhaka and the Rotary Club of Dhaka Pathfinders.

The two-day event featured different activities including book launching and book reading sessions, puppet show, discussion, letter writing, memory gameplay, drawing sessions, and live music.

Friday, the special book "Everyday Stories" was launched at the event. The book is an anthology that comprises stories of the everyday struggles and triumphs of six girls from Dhaka's Karail slum.

The collective art exhibition "Letter to the City" was also inaugurated at the event, featuring 30 artists who showcased letters written to Dhaka city, complemented by drawings and paintings.

Day one began with children from the locality drawing on the theme "What I want from my city," followed by an engaging "Everyday Stories" reading session with Shaheed Rumi Smrity Pathagar members, and a puppet show and puppet-making workshop by Jolputul Puppets.

German Ambassador to Bangladesh Achim Tröster inaugurated the event. Turkish Ambassador to Bangladesh Mustafa Osman Turan also joined the inauguration.

The members of the Rotary Club of Dhaka Pathfinders and many eminent guests joined the event.

The event's second day began with the reading session of "Everyday Stories" with Shaheed Rumi Smrity Pathagar members and a collective art session with the students of the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and live music session of Kaaktaal.

From 10am till 8pm, there were several interesting and engaging sessions including the ChithiChitro (artworks based on the letters) exhibition, which was open for all to read and write letters.

Letter to the City is part of a long-term interdisciplinary project – "Women and the city," that sheds light on the challenges faced by girls and women living or working in the cities of Bangladesh.

The project is initiated by Dhaka Memory in collaboration with ZK/U Berlin (Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik) to explore art-engaged activation and generate critical dialogues on gender-equal city planning.

In August 2021, the Dhaka Memory team announced an open invitation called "An Open Letter to My City" for women and girls to share thoughts and aspirations about their cities.

In response, more than 100 letters were received from girls and women of diverse backgrounds.

The letters collectively resonate with intricate narratives of emotions, struggles, nostalgia, wishes, insights, despair, hopes and love. They also raise questions about the unequal gender relations in society and how the everyday experience of the citizens varies significantly in terms of gender.

To make the conversations more engaging, a group of 30 artists, architects and illustrators gathered in October 2021 to portray the stories, dreams and challenges expressed in the letters.

To develop a participatory journey and collective insight, the Dhaka Memory team will organise a series of public events, exhibitions, open studios and workshops on different places and communities of the city.

The first event of the Women and the city project was hosted by Dhaka Memory at Batighar – Smrititay Sharanay Aly Zaker from March 18 to 26 in collaboration with Mongol Deep Foundation.

Dhaka Memory is an experimental collective of architects and artists.

As an interdisciplinary platform, it develops community-engaged projects and explores alternative approaches to generate critical discourses about architecture, public space and the city.