The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University will present its first joint exhibition of contemporary Bangladeshi artists Tayeba Begum Lipi and Mahbubur Rahman. The exhibition will explore the artists’ commentary on and challenge of social values, expectations and conventions that are a part of everyday life, thus raising questions about national and global issues, including gender-specific violence and sociopolitical conflict.
The exhibition will mark the first time Lipi’s and Rahman’s works are put in dialogue with one another, revealing an interchange of ideas, overlapping themes and connections between materials used. On view March 5 to Aug. 7, “The Artist as Activist” will include nearly 40 works of video, sculpture, photography and charcoal drawings, as well as never-before-seen pieces by both artists.
“Many of the societal norms Lipi and Rahman challenge within the context of their native Bangladeshi culture have deep resonances around the world, from issues of personal identity to gender equality to migration,” said Caitlín Doherty, curator of the exhibition and deputy director of curatorial affairs at the Broad. “I have personally been fascinated by their work, drawn to the ways in which both artists’ activist instincts are realized throughout their practice. Sparking dialogues across cultural and geographic boundaries is central to our mission, and we are so proud to welcome them to the Broad MSU for their first joint museum exhibition.”
“The Artist as Activist” joins other exhibitions at the museum examining work by living artists from the U.S. and around the globe who are addressing a range of social and political issues through their practice. The most recent exhibitions include South Asian artists Naiza Khan, Imran Qureshi and Mithu Sen.
Installed across three galleries within the Broad and occupying an entire floor of the museum, "The Artist as Activist" will begin with an introduction to each artist individually, emphasizing the distinct themes of their unique practices. At the close of the exhibition, works by Lipi and Rahman that were created in concert with one another will be presented side-by-side. With more than 35 works included, the exhibition marks the largest presentation in a U.S. museum for both artists.
The artists, who are also married, co-founded the Britto Arts Trust in 2002. Bangladesh’s first artist-run alternative arts platform, the Trust is dedicated to organizing exhibitions, enabling international dialogue and exchange and providing support to the country’s artists through residencies, workshops and funding.
Prior to the exhibit’s debut, there will be an artist talk with the curator, and a discussion led by the two artists at 7 p.m. on March 1 in the Broad’s Alan and Rebecca Ross Education Wing. The official opening of the exhibit on March 5 will include a public reception with curatorial remarks at 6 p.m. in the same location.