Profile

Naeem Mohaiemen is a historian and visual artist working in Dhaka and New York. He uses film, photography, mixed media sculptures, and essays to research borders, wars, and belonging within Bangladesh’s two postcolonial markers (1947 and 1971). Project themes have been described as "revolutionary past meaningful in the sudden eruption of a revolutionary present" (Kaelen Wilson-Goldie, Bidoun), "ultimately more illuminating than Jacques Rancière’s microscopic examinations of the utopian kernels" (Ben Davis, ArtNet), and "ever on the verge of collapsing into abstraction, their materiality performs the indeterminacy of the event they record" (Sarinah Masukor, West Space)

In 2014, a survey show and publication, Prisoners of Shothik Itihash (Correct History), brought Naeem’s projects together (ranging over historical years 1943-1977) at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, curated by Adam Szymzyck. Naeem's current long-term film project The Young Man Was explores the 1970s left as a form of tragic utopia. Chapters include the films United Red Army (about the 1977 hijacking of Japan Airlines to Dhaka), Afsan’s Long Day (based on the diary of historian Afsan Chowdhury, and a collection of photographs from Astrid Proll), and Last Man in Dhaka Central (about Peter Custers, a Dutch journalist jailed in Bangladesh after the violent events of 1975). Last Man premiered in the Okwui Enwezor curated 2015 Venice Biennale (“All the world’s futures”), and earlier films have screened at Museum of Modern Art, New York, Oberhausen, Sharjah Biennial, etc. Three of the films in the series have screened together in the special program “I don’t throw bombs, I make films” (after Fassbinder) at DocLisboa, Portugal.

Historian Afsan Chowdhury (the co-editor of a multi-volume collection of documents related to the 1971 war) has bracketed the work of Naeem Mohaiemen, Nayanika Mookherjee (The Spectral Wound), Bina D’Costa (Nationbuilding, Gender and War Crimes in South Asia), Dina Siddiqi (“Left Behind by the Nation”), and Yasmin Saikia (Women, War, and the Making of Bangladesh) as a "second wave of history writing" about Bangladesh. Naeem is also a Ph.D. student in Historical Anthropology at Columbia University, and a 2014-2015 Guggenheim Fellow (film).