While looking at the final outcome, it seems that ‘imageness’ is what serves as a point of departure in most of my photographic series. The trope is forwarded as something of an umbrella word which is a proxy for an ‘ecology’ where the eyes of the beholder must immerse as opposed to resting on some particular detail of an object. These re-processed images demand one to contemplate the visuals on and around the cues of what have once been captured and what they have become following re-fashioning through artistic interventions. There shouldn’t be a fixed frame either through which to elicit their meaning.

While printing some of them from a commercial house in Dhaka, I remember how a photographer engaged in an entirely different field responded to them: he said ‘I can smell these images.’ This is exactly what these works are about -- they are open to interpretation. The same man smelled Napalm in an image where a portion of the blurry picture of a ‘killing field’ has been overlaid with an orange-ish translucent soap bar.

Yet the ambiguity of these images is not intentional. They are the result of the way they were subjected to re-dressing and re-staging, which were never predetermined. They were brought into existence through a process that was anything if not impulsive. If their presence initiated a sensory unfolding on several levels -- that is exactly what is necessary to validate their current status as art. As an artist responsible for their existence I must also reveal my intention which has always been the unveiling of the life-stream (read and captured in both historical and ahistorical context) they once represented as well as the emotive layers which now seem to have gathered as we ‘look back’, or retrospectively reflect upon what has been and what they might signify as interconnected art pieces.

The series that bears a specific title in a specific wall layout, inflected as each of them is, by foreign substances such as honey, hair gel, or soap bar made into a thick sheet, stands in opposition to objecthood as well as expressly-imparted symbolism. They are what they visually imply and also what they choose not to make visible. The subtext becomes a way to renegotiate and re-experience the imageness one encounters in every piece, thereby setting off a dynamical movement between image and their associative value as stimuli.

Mustafa Zaman Bio

Born 1968, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Mustafa Zaman received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1989 from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Dhaka. His solo show featuring works from the Honey Series was a part of the Dhaka Art Summit 2016. Mustafa was awarded an Honourable Diploma from Small Form Graphics, Poland, Lodz, in 1993.