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Seher Shah

Seher Shah in collaboration with Randhir Singh

Dhaka Library (detail), 2018

On Muzharul Islam: Surfacing Intention is a group exhibition of primarily commissioned works by 17 artists/collaboratives responding to the built and unbuilt legacy of the ground-breaking Bangladeshi architect Muzharul Islam (1923-2012).

The exhibition observes the interplay and occasional confrontation inherent among architectural spaces within an emergent nation-state. Active in politics because of his own conviction that “it was the most architectural thing he could do,” Muzharul Islam humbly and uncompromisingly forged an architectural movement in what was East Pakistan as part of a broader claim toward decolonial consciousness in the 1950s leading to the country’s independence in 1971. His buildings and ideas influenced multiple generations of Bangladeshi architects working today and subsequently international figures such as Louis I. Kahn, Richard Neutra, and Stanley Tigerman, each of whom contributed to ideas around modernist architecture in South Asia.

Working across photography, painting, sculpture, performance, sound, and film, the artists in the exhibition present work that at once negotiates and builds worlds that are borne from the local environmental and cultural climate of Bangladesh. For Muzharul Islam, and the artists presenting, architecture and art are conceived as benefiting all who make up the lands of any nation, no matter their origin, without the boundaries of class or caste.

The exhibition is co-curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt with Sean Anderson, Associate Curator, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art and Nurur Khan (Director, Muzharul Islam Archive).

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