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Karnaphuli Folk Triennial (triennial of Folk & contemporary art)

‘Folk’ and ‘popular’ arts reflect a full gamut of human sensibilities – illuminating important cultural features shared among members of a community. The folk and traditional arts of Asia are extensively interlinked; their basic similarities can be seen to have arisen from living, thinking and social relations, as well as from the mythologies and religious beliefs of the region’s peoples. Santaran attempts to focus on the artistic and anthropological links of this region by way of a series of events centred on folk and popular arts and their state in today’s hyperactive cultural climate.

River Karnaphuli: This is the largest and most important river in the south-eastern region of Bangladesh. From its source in the Lushai Hills of India’s Mizoram State, it flows 270 kilometres south-west, through the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Chittagong itself, finally discharging into the Bay of Bengal. At its mouth, the Karnaphuli hosts Chittagong’s harbour, the principal sea-port of Bangladesh. A large hydroelectric power plant, built in the Kaptai region in the1960s, makes use of the Karnaphuli’s waters. Historically, the Karnaphuli has always played an influential role in the socio-economic life of the entire Chittagong region, and this finds powerful expression in the arts, crafts, literature, music, mythological beliefs and social culture of local peoples – so much so that the Karnaphuli is now a major icon across the whole of Bangladesh, prominent in all our culture and literature, essential to the economy. These are the reasons Santaran chose the name Karnaphuli for the Folk Triennial.

Artists and Art Works:The main content of the festival were divided principally into two general sections – Folk, Popular & Traditional Art Section, and Contemporary Section, (work influenced by folk, popular and traditional art).

1st Karnaphuli Folk Triennial 2015: Santaran staged the first festival in 2015, in two locations – the first at Artist Rashid Chowdhuri Art Gallery, Institute of Fine Arts, and University of Chittagong, and the second at the National Art Gallery, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Dhaka – both in Bangladesh.

Participants included 12 Nepalese  traditional Thanka, Phubha and Mithila artists renowned for their traditional  approach to art, 3 Bangladeshi traditional Alpana painters from Chittagong, a popular Cinema-Banner painter and a Rickshaw painter, 8 Indian Patachitra, Madhubani, Bishnupurer Tash painters and 11 young  artists; the Curator, Co-curator and Panel Speakers also took part. The festival extended into an exhibition, seminar and discussions, and finally a musical programme.

This was the first significant international festival devoted to folk and traditional arts in Bangladesh – as it also was in south Asia as a whole. Santaran planned and printed a well-illustrated publication about the event. The Institute of Fine Arts, University of Chittagong and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy generously collaborated with Santaran in presenting this event.

2nd Karnaphuli Folk Triennial 2018: The 2nd Karnaphuli Folk Triennial 2018, in Chittagong is the second festival of its kind arranged by Santaran, and features arts of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Japan. Santaran has take decision to organize the 2nd Karnaphuli Folk Triennial 2018 in 2019, because national election commission declared the date of national election in December 2018 for that reason Santaran organized 2nd Karnaphuli Folk Triennial 2018 in 5th to 9th March 2019. The objective  behind the International Folk, Traditional and Popular Art festivals every three years is vested in Santaran’s firm belief that to know about our heritage, culture and the seminal trajectories of the folk and traditional arts and the creative acumen of practising artists is an essential step forward towards a new cultural awareness. This awareness is not only about saving folk and traditional art forms and their artists, but also is about exploring the links they have with all other spheres of art-making – including contemporary forms of practice worldwide.

International traditional, folk and popular art and craft exhibition, international art workshop, performance art events, performing arts events, seminars, artist talk and presentation.Ninety artworks, by 40 individual artists chosen from 17 art traditions and five selected countries were exhibited in the Folk, Popular and Traditional Art Section. Thirty-one projects, in the media of painting, video art, new media art, photography, installation art, and performance art were presented in the Contemporary Art Section (work influenced by folk, popular and traditional art) of the festival.