Dhaka Live Art Biennale

D’LAB | 2019

Dhaka Live Art Biennale

Biennale Timeline: 21 JAN – 14 FEB

2nd Edition Presents by Back ART Foundation


Dhaka Live Art Biennale is an international open and public platform for artists working in the field of live art who, using the body as means of art, aim to initiate public interaction, introduce local art forms, connect tradition through the deshi culture, crafts and puppets, food and wears, etc.Back ART Foundation, a non-profit art initiative launched this bi-annual Live Art event in 2017 with the aim of exploring sightlines of common struggle of turning art into a social practice, thereby ensuring a narrowing down of the gap between art and public, local and global artist communities.

Live Art as a discipline that includes performance art, experimental approach to theatre, voice art, action-based art, experimental movement in dance and other forms of performances, etc. When an artist makes art in front of a public or an audience in a co-opted space to initiate dialogues it can be called live art.

Diversity and multiculturalism are aspects that Live Art Biennale seeks address.  Back ART Foundation focuses on cultural diversity by bringing artists of various different inclinations and nationality to Dhaka; it attempts to answer to issues pertaining to environment, which is focused on awareness development through artistic staging of performances; it also seeks to connect to communities across the city of Dhaka so that they develop an understating of diversity and harmony; it also set out to refer back to mythology, native language, ritual activities etc. in their projects to ensure a contextual growth of languages that are new and emerging, as well find a way to locate the commonality of “existence” and “spirit” that facilitate conversations and narratives of peaceful coexistence and democratic aspirations, thereby ensuring unhindered progress.

Back Art ensures the channeling of new thoughts between communities, faiths and cultures and peoples. Back ART believes that this Live Art Biennale will be a platform for all Live Art mediums where artists from all background and countries of origin can join with all types if living artistic traditions and it will transform into a magnificent local event with global as well as local narratives of diversity, social harmony and peaceful coexistence of communities and religions besides promoting artistic innovation entrenched into them.

More than 100 artists and artisans from 26 countries (including Bangladesh) participated in D’LAB events, such as, workshops, seminars, Live Art, etc. and this D’LAB has already framed our vision by generating narratives and imageries that seek to inspire the communities across the city of Dhaka to rethink their identity and reorient their thoughts on issues identity, homogeneity to develop an interest in diversity and heterogeneity. Artists used performance art, voice art, experimental theatre, movement and action to address the above issue. Dhaka Live Art Biennale seeks to create a common space for global live artists with Bangladesh being an ambassador of Live Art. This bi-annual art event is open to everyone where artists bring art to the public and this is a new learning and experience to the community. This event tremendously benefits the local art scene in various ways and is edifying in its processes.

The platform may even work as an academy someday to the live art-practicing artist in Bangladesh. A big gathering of international artists from many different countries helped local young and emerging artists to have an understanding of how art is intertwined with the past, present and the future, and are linked with a variety of cultures and traditions. This was also an excellent opportunity for local artists to build international friendship. The local community in Dhaka-Bangladesh has a very rich tradition and culture, where the forms of live art today are interconnected with the present socio-political realities, different living traditions and past ritual activities.

Performance as an art formis only about 30 years old. In the period of 1990’s performance art was introduced as a medium of art to the Bangladeshi art audience. This new form impacted the very relationship between artist and audience. In this decade it has become very popular as a dialogic medium in Bangladesh. Many events and workshops of performance art have been organized in recent years, which allowed artists to present themselves through a framework taking the idea of the body and its place in the world in myriad situations. Since each performer uses the body and its surroundings as living art materials, the communicative element is always reemphasized, making performance art one of the most popular form of practice.

Though performance art is not being taught in any of the art academy or institution, and also none of the practicing performance artists in Bangladesh has an academic background in performance art, so, Back ART Foundation wants to develop an academy for performance art in Bangladesh, and the Dhaka Live Art Biennale works as a springboard for this vision.


Theme of D’LAB 2019 :

“P e r f o r m i n g     T r a d i t i o n    a n d   T e x t’’

Since the last couple of decades, performance art as a form of practice has become part of most art events in the region. Sometimes it even serves as a staple engaging a wide gamut of artists willing to cross boundaries to become performance artists. But often performances are a way to mirror what contemporary trends are producing through some fixed frameworks. To expand the horizon of this nascent art practice, D’LAB would take this opportunity to appeal to all to return to some of the traditional practices of our respective cultures and lands.

Stories or text are the carriers of tradition, so are some of the rituals and performances that are either linked with religious or folk beliefs, or are carryovers from life lived amidst nature. Thus tradition can be traced in both written and aural forms, and many other agrarian and pre-agrarian performances that were, and still are, part of a lifestyle of a given people. If prayers, pujas and festivals are attached to religious tradition, amassing hays in a haystack is a secular performance that we might not refer to as performance since it is considered to be a utilitarian task. Telling mythic stories by referring to pictures is another performative act, which reside between the religious and the secular. We are set to explore all such performances and stories that are invested in both religious and secular life-making.

So, our aim is to initiate such “returns” to rewire our mind and reinvigorate our body. Through acts of reminiscence, rethinking, we feel that we will have open the horizon for new languages of expression, new acts and performances.


This edition of D’LAB | 2019 has widen its ambit of influence by penetrating areas where the masses has been exposed to radical Islamic narratives, ideas of a theocratic state, etc. Bringing live art to the underdeveloped communities has the advantage of capturing the attention of the unthinking, unaware school and college-going children and adolescents. Since “performative acts” are already part and parcel of life, these presentations easily appeals to young and old. Our aim here would be to play the role of the catalyzer — one who raises issues through artistic acts to initiate new ways of thinking.

We believe that by involving the public, the artistic activities can easily be translated into social “resistance” to ideas and thoughts duely deemed damaging to our democratic ethos. Each act of performance can thus be considered an “intervention” giving the public a chance to form their opinion on their own life, society, their ideas of reformation, change, thereby emphasizing the freedom of choice that can ensure future growth of the country.

Back ART Foundation has initiated this international bi-annual art event ‘Dhaka Live Art Biennale’ in 2017.  It has engaged communities who are involved in the Dhaka Art scene and the general audiences. Its inception has created a great impact on the art scene of Bangladesh. In a thriving art scene of Bangladeshi, where there is an uneven market, and the artists are struggling to survive in this gradually widening horizon, this event work like a convergence of people and cultures as well as ideas and thoughts.

Back ART Foundation envisions bringing art to the public; and it has already organized several public art projects, where many emerging and young artists were promoted to allow them flourish and help them reaching their full potential. Back ART creates innovative art project on diverse fields including mythology & rural lifestyle, urbanization, refugee and migration, memories, and language & performance, where artists incorporate various disciplines of art and science both.

D’LAB | Dhaka Live Art Biennale

A project of Back ART Foundation

Supporting Partners:

Collaboration with: Bangladesh Creative Forum

Exhibition Partner: EDGE, The Foundation

Supported by, Workshop Partner: EMK Center

Live Art Partner: Elite paint

Hospitality Partner: Portuguese Consulate

Seminar Partner: Goethe-Institut

Media & Print Partner: The Daily Star

Documentation Partner: Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy


Event Collaborators:


(Dhaka University Photographic Society)

Avant Garde, Theatre Group

Prachyanaat, Theatre Group

ArtPRO Art Initiative

Jolputul Puppets


Back ART Foundation












D’LAB 2019 Partners :