DEYALL

Author: Jukta Saha
Categories: Art room | Featured
Published on August 3, 2023

Growing up, the idea of leaving my hometown to go somewhere else terrified me. The fear of being away from my parents, getting lost or not being able to find my way back home petrified my little heart. A lot of my childhood memories were made in Chittagong, far away from home. While living there, I’d visit the Abhaymitra Ghat to see the Karnaphuli river. While walking along the roads leading to the ghat, holding the fingers of my Chotomashi (Aunt), I’d say to myself, “If I ever get lost, the smell of this road will be my guide!” A smell became a source of comfort, security and belonging for me.

For many years I have only been able to observe life in Dhaka from a distance II Artwork by Jukta Saha

Dhaka, on the other hand, is a city that I have been looking at from behind windows. I have only seen this city from afar, from the window of a car or a rickshaw, always avoiding public transport to stay away from any kind of interaction, to protect myself from anything undesirable.

This year I have been visiting Dhaka for a number of projects and this has led me to take a closer look at the city and to deepen my understanding of it. Leaving all my fears and prejudices behind, I started commuting by public transport at different times of the day, and the experience raised some questions in my mind and led to some discoveries. Why isn’t this city designed or planned to treat everyone equally, I wondered?  Why does this unfair city treat me like a second-class citizen just because I’m a woman?  This questioning, the rage I felt and the deep understanding, gave me a sense of belonging to this very city, Dhaka, that I once feared to touch.

The viewer observes the passers-by, shielded from the eerie feeling of the direct and uncomfortable glare II Artwork by Jukta Saha

 

 

So before my return to Chittagong after the completion of the projects, I wanted to write a letter to this city. This artwork is my letter to Dhaka.

It is a depiction of the life and activities that take place on Bir Uttam Aminul Haque Street. For many years I have only been able to observe life in Dhaka from a distance. I wanted to capture that feeling in this artwork.

Here I’ve used the top view map of the buildings along the street as framing windows through which the viewer observes the passers-by, shielded from the eerie feeling of the direct and uncomfortable glare. The viewer feels at ease while watching remotely, giving her a sense of security without making her feel excluded from fitting in the ever-hustling Dhaka.

 

 

My letter to Dhaka II Artwork by Jukta Saha

 

 

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