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Bangladeshi artists bring activist exhibition to the Broad

The Broad Art Museum opens a new exhibition called “The Artist as Activist” this week. Scott Pohl talks with the two Bangladeshi artists behind the show.

The Broad Art Museum this week opens a five-month exhibition of works by a pair of married artists from Bangladesh. Tayeba BegumLipi and MahbuburRahman are the visionary couple behind "The Artist as Activist" exhibit. Current State talked with both artists about the show, which opens this Friday.

Rahman says he and Lipi have very different artistic styles.

"I would say Lipi's pieces are more still-based, sculpture works," says Rahman. "My work is very mixed--drawings, videos, performance-based pieces."

The couple may work in different media, but their goals as artists are similar. Together, they founded a non-profit artist organization in Bangladesh in 2002. It was the first of its kind in the country, and Lipi says she hopes it makes it easier for younger artists to turn their passion into a career.

"We've made our journey working for the artist," says Lipi. "Especially the younger generation of artists fighting for a platform to explore and experiment with their work."

The artists’ exhibit at the Broad will span an entire floor and three different galleries and feature a wide variety of works. Lipi says she and Rahman draw inspiration for their art from social, political and religious issues. One gallery will have pieces devoted to the transgender community in Bangladesh, a community the couple has been working with for several years. 

Both Rahman and Lipi say the relationship they've built during their 20-year marriage has helped them develop as artists, too. 

"When I got to know Mahbubur, it was an opportunity to get to know more about art," says Lipi. "How to think about your own art practice - and how you can go farther. So, for me it was an eye-opening relationship."

Rahman says that sharing a home and workspace with Lipi helps him to think differently about his work and to be more creative. But mostly, he says, it’s just nice to spend so much time with a good friend.  

“The main part in our life, we share a lot from the morning to night. So, it is a really good opportunity to have a good friend next to each other,” says Rahman.  

Rahman and Lipi are scheduled to talk at the Broad Art Museum Tuesday, March 1st at 7:00pm.

Article by Ethan Merrill, Current State Intern 

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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