Andreas Schlaegel, a German writer and artist came to Bangladesh to conduct a five-day course on cultural journalism from June 10. The course, organised by the Goethe Institut, was held at the German cultural centre in Dhanmondi. Schlaegel visited banglanews24.com during the course and gave an interview to Robab Rosan.
Robab Rosan: Please, would you introduce yourself first?
Andreas Schlaegel: I am an art critic and artist both by profession and passion. As an art critic I need to look at others` works. As I travel, I see artworks of different nations. I am also a sculptor, but maybe better known for writing art criticism.
My father was an telecommunication engineer. I came to visit my parents here in Dhaka about 25 years ago. At that time I had just started my art studies.
I studied at an art academy in Frankfurt and later, I studied in London.
RR: Would you tell us the purpose of coming here this time?
AS: Yes, I have come here to conduct a five-day course on cultural journalism. The idea of the course came from the Goethe Institut director Judith Mirschberger here.
She said that they regularly arrange cultural programmes. They hope that if the programmes would be covered with proper criticism, more people would be interested to come and engage in the public discussion they raise.
She wanted to make the cultural programmes popular in Dhaka.
RR: How do you feel here?
AS: After about 25 years, it is good to be back in Dhaka. It has so much changed over the years. I cannot recognise many things.
RR: What are the changes you see?
AS: Well, I think I have also been changed a lot. Anyway, the city has been double in size by this time.
The interesting change I see is the mobile phones. I think people are fond of mobile phones. I see mobile phones in every hand. Even, many rickshaw pullers use mobile phones and some of them paint the number on the board.
Besides, Dhaka has seen an interesting development in art scene. A young generation of artists is coming up, that will also be noticed in the Western art world.
RR: Did you feel interest to come here and conduct the programme?
AS: Yes, it is fact that there is little awareness about Bangladeshi culture in the West. I was very interested to come Bangladesh as I had been here many years ago. My parents are also very happy for my visit this time.
RR: What outcomes do you expect from this course?
AS: I hope that I would be able to inspire the Bangladeshi reporters to help create a public discourse on culture.
Bangladesh should also be recognised as a place of culture. The young artists need to be nourished. They need to be supported.
A good criticism would be a great support for them. Good criticism would be a great nourishment for them. Proper criticism would help the artists to develop.
I hope changes will come, and the awareness of Bangladeshi art would increase in international arena. It will take some time. I hope to hear new voices from Bangladesh in the art world soon.
RR: You said earlier, you came Bangladesh first time to visit your parents. What will you say to them about Bangladesh after returning to Germany?
AS: Well, I will tell my father Albert Schlaegel and mother Astrid Schlaegel that Bangladesh has changed beyond recognition. But it also remains the same.
I mean, it has grown with new buildings. It is now much more modern. But it is same in the sense that it is still very diverse, lively and dynamic.
People are still very friendly and charming.
RR: What will you say to your family members, who have never been in Bangladesh?
AS: My young daughter Naomi Rosenberg, who likes football very much, asked me to bring football shoes. I will tell her that cricket is now more popular in Bangladesh.
I will also tell her that the underprivileged children in Bangladesh struggle for survival and for fulfilling their personal determination. And their determination to fight against the odds can also be an inspiration for me.
I do not see only poverty I also have an optimistic view.
I will tell me wife Angela Rosenberg that Bangladesh is a country full of contradiction and pollution, but it also has amazing vitality and beauty. It is a fascinating place to visit.
RR: Thank you very much.
AS: Thank you.
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