Haven is Elsewhere

Migration is never a unidirectional force – it leads to inter-woven networks of movement that interact with and shape each other. Kamruzzaman Shadhin’s work Haven is Elsewhere (2017-2018), the newest iteration of an ongoing community project, embodies the common quest of most migrants and refugees: the search for a “safe haven.” In Kamruzzaman’s work, internally migrated people in Thakurgaon in Northwest Bangladesh, create quilts from the used clothes of displaced people from Southern Bangladesh- the border demarcating South and Southeast Asia. These clothes carry the pain, tears and trauma of displacement. Many of these were collected from people who were illegally trafficked as forced labourers into Thailand and Malaysia, some of these were abandoned by the newly arrived Rohingya refugees who accepted new clothes given by local people in Bangladesh. The clothes have been collected over a period of 1.5 years by the artist, along with the narratives of displaced people. These are then sewn together by the internal migrant community in Thakurgaon and embellished with the traditional Bengali kantha embroidery techniques through a therapeutic ritual. These monumental quilts form a projection surface for video documentation that attempts to capture the stories of displacement through these once-used clothes. The search for security, whether through the promise of better livelihoods or through freedom from oppression, becomes the impetus for a vast web of interconnected migration, both across and within national boundaries. These quests often continue as the new migrants and refugees become targets for illegal trade and trafficking, continuing a cycle where the safe haven shifts its axis further and further out of reach.

Dhaka Art Summit

Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow

Concrete, Dubai

Kantha Artisans: Ratna Rani, Shahinur Begum, Samiran Begum, Hasina Begum, Monowara Begum, Fatema Begum, Maleka Begum, Selina Begum