By Sabya van Elswijk,

Today Martijn is invited at Depart, an art magazine in Dhaka. Leaving at 13 from our studio, we arrive at 15 o’clock, just in time. There we meet Mustafa Zaman, the editor of Depart, who is also an artist. As he explains, in the 90ties there were artists and exhibitions in Dhaka, but few good art critics. Being an artist himself he is very able to write good articles on other artists, and he started working for the Observer. Today he is responsible for the Depart magazine, which is an art magazine, and also supports Bangladeshi artists by showcasing their work, and organize art events. Tonight Martijn will give a lecture on art and lying, based on his philosophy and the project he did worldwide with dragqueens.

In the beautiful apartment that is the headquarters of depart, there is contemporary Bangladeshi art everywhere, and the view looks out on one of the rare open spaces filled with trees. This used to be a very rich area with big houses, before these apartment buildings came, the last decades the whole city changed. The spacious room is filled with chairs for the lecture, we expect 35 people from art society in Dhaka, young and old, all disciplines.

Before the lecture everyone drops in, and in the kitchen people have been preparing iftar, snacks people eat here at night during Ramadan. All eat and greet, and at 19.30 Mustafa introduces Martijn, and the first artist lecture hosted by Depart. He says he is amazed by the combination Martijn makes between art and social involvement. He understands that for Martijn there is no other way. Art is a way to understand life.

Martijn starts his lecture inviting everybody for a conversation. Since he is brought up in a different culture than most of the audience, the images he has in his mind lead him to what he says today. That can be a starting point for a dialogue. Martijns lecture is published here completely.

After the lecture, while showing Martijn’s latest work on the background, many people were interested in what is the meaning of his ideas and experience for art and social involvement in Bangladesh. The participants in the Dhaka art project, Sharmeen, Emran, Sumon, told more about their experiences with the ideas of contributing to the world. Emran and Sharmeen gave the example of the rickshaw driver they went to portray. By making real contact before, there is a new relationship born. Now the rickshaw driver calls them to invite them to come again: very different way of portraying a person then to stand on a safe distance and making a portrait. Together we decided to organize a follow up seminar to co-create new ideas together.

The host of the evening, Mustafa Zaman of Depart, was rightfully proud of this evening.

To be continued…

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