Naeem Mohaiemen Named a 2020–21 Senior Fellow

Naeem Mohaiemen has been selected to be a Senior Fellow for the 2020–21 academic year. As the inaugural recipient of an Alfonso Ossorio Creative Production Grant, an endowed program overseen by the Lunder Institute, he will develop a new film based on collaborative research with Colby faculty and students, and with additional research at sites in Maine.

“Maine’s settler history has often surfaced in genre fiction. This invitation is an opportunity to excavate the crevices within this popular literary form,” shared Mohaiemen.

Established in 2019, the Alfonso Ossorio Creative Production Grant provides financial support to artists affiliated with the Colby College Museum of Art and the Lunder Institute for American Art to propel their intellectual pursuits, research, and creation of new artworks that expand the boundaries of American art.

“Seeing the Lunder Institute awarding the first Alfonso Ossorio Creative Production Grant to Naeem Mohaiemen is a very exciting moment for us,” said Nicole A. Vanasse, president of the board directors for the Ossorio Foundation. “Ossorio was a proud and generous supporter of established and emerging artists alike, and it is in his collegial spirit that the foundation hopes to continue his legacy, enabling a new generation of artists to challenge and expand our understanding of American art.”

This fellowship will allow Mohaiemen to further his interest in the dyads of promise and peril. During a year of research and exploration, the artist will develop a film for exhibition at the Colby College Museum of Art in the winter/spring 2022. The work will build on ideas of the eroding-yet-surviving family unit explored in two earlier films: Tripoli Cancelled, 2017, set in Ellinikon Airport in Athens, Greece; and Jole Dobe Na (Those Who Do Not Drown), 2020, set in Lohia Hospital in Kolkata, India.

Mohaiemen develops films, installations, and essays to research socialist utopia, malleable borders, and rhizomatic families—beginning with Bangladesh’s two postcolonial markers (1947, 1971), and then radiating outward. Despite underscoring a historic tendency to misrecognize allies, a hope for a future transnational, class solidarity left—as the only possible alternative to current categories of race, religion, and nation—is the basis of his work. His practice delves into moments of rupture emanating from the last century and considers the possibilities, and failures, of imagination surrounding utopian revolutions.

“Mohaiemen’s practice calls to attention the ways we tell the stories we share and the relationships between histories of revolutions and independence, utopia and dystopia, as well as visual culture and literature. His methodology is also the vantagepoint through which we can better comprehend social and cultural memories of events,” says Daisy Desrosiers, Lunder Institute director of artist programs.

As part of his engagement, Mohaiemen will participate in a Zoom conversation with Desrosiers on September 24, 2020, at 6 pm. The talk is one in a three-part series this fall featuring the voices of scholars and artists who are shaping the field of American art.

Mohaiemen is author of Midnight’s Third Child (Nokta, forthcoming) and Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Kunsthalle Basel, 2014); co-editor (with Eszter Szakacs) of Solidarity Must be Defended (Tranzit/ Van Abbemuseum/ Salt/ Tricontinental/ Asia Culture Center, forthcoming); editor of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the Blind Spot of Bangladesh Nationalism (Drishtipat, 2010); and co-editor (with Lorenzo Fusi) of System Error: War is a Force that Gives us Meaning (Sylvana, 2007). His work has been exhibited at Vasas Metalworkers’ Union (Budapest), Mahmoud Darwish Museum (Ramallah), Bengal Foundation (Dhaka), SALT (Istanbul), Kiran Nadar (Delhi), Tate Britain (London), MoMA PS1 (New York), Documenta 14 (Athens/Kassel), Sharjah and Venice Biennial, and the 2020 Yokohama Triennale.

Image: Naeem Mohaiemen, Baksho Rohoshyo (Chobi Tumi Kar?), 2019.