Soma Surovi Jannat (b. Bangladesh) | The Blank HoleSep 12, 2021
My name is Soma Surovi Jannat. I am an artist from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
My work is about how we can cultivate our senses through the relationship with nature. In my work, I try to create a multi-dimensional space with drawings, herbs and organic materials, where viewers have the opportunity to enhance their visual perception and senses through interaction with the artwork. My practice includes drawing, installation and site-specific artworks.
Dhaka is the most crowded city in the world, and we do not have enough space to live, so I abandoned the idea of a monotonous studio space in 2016 when I completed my MFA degree and started to work in open spaces. I have travelled to different villages in Bangladesh and India such as the tribal village (Santhal) in Santiniketan, my hometown Lalmonirhat. Talking to locals from different communities and spending time with them enables me to understand how they live and relate to nature. My experience and understanding of nature, the way different communities live, and their thoughts represent the inspiration, resource, and medium of my works.
My first solo exhibition ‘Grey Contours’ was held at La Galerie, Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Bangladesh in 2018. I was commissioned by Samdani Art Foundation to create the drawing installation ‘Into the yarn, out in the One’ in Dhaka Art Summit 2020, which won the Samdani Art Award 2020 consisting of a residency program in Delfina Foundation in London. My previous exhibitions include ‘Young Subcontinent project’ of the Serendipity Arts Festival, Goa, India 2018; 17th & 18th Asian Art Biennale Bangladesh 2016, 2018; and the 7th Beijing International Art Biennale, China 2017. I won the Young Artist Award Bangladesh 2020 from Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
The Blank Hole
In this pandemic situation, where we have spent over a year in our homes, my 9’x12’ room becomes the inspiration for my recent work – The Blank Hole. In this work, I made four white wooden boxes in different sizes according to the ratio of my room. Each box has a peephole where viewers can look inside and experience different thoughts of isolation.
In a box smaller than a shoebox, I have placed a single dry leaf to remind us of the nature of life. Dying leaves hold the traces of memories, time and transformation.
The inside panels of a box, which is twice the smaller one, are covered in rice – a staple food in Bangladesh. In one corner, I have placed a piece of dry paddy. During this crisis, food leftovers and waste have taught us the importance of one seed.
A third box is painted white inside, unlike the rest. Floating cotton wool balls inside give viewers a sense of looking at a cloud. Unlike every other thing on earth, clouds do not have any defined form. They live in a continuous process of forming and dissolving, both at the same time. The two phenomena, apparently contradictory, are taking place simultaneously.
In the last box, I could fit in a sitting position. It is the largest one. The inside panels are covered with mud and drawings of prehistoric signs and symbols, which I have made with the pulp of rice straw. Spending time within blank walls, surrounded by emptiness and void, and lime falling off the walls, I am reminded of the walls of ancient caves where humans expressed themselves through a different form of language.
Leaves changing their forms in between the pages of books; food leftovers lying over the plates; watching the passing clouds through the window; looking at ants scurrying down my bedroom’s wall. Sometimes these small events around us teach us to understand the vitality of life.
As an artist, I see myself as a bridge to connect different aspects of life around me and transform them with an optimistic approach.