Bipasha Hayat, (b. March 1971) is a National award-winning visual artist from Bangladesh, currently living in Brooklyn NewYork.
In her early childhood in Libya, Bipasha observed the ruins of the Ancient Roman civilization firsthand. These remnants resonated with her and would later become the foundation for her art and aesthetic. It’s as though she felt these ancient remains told her own stories amongst the old stones and unidentified writing.
Bipasha’s different series of work is the reflection of her memories resonating in her subconscious, written in her own alphabet, thus marking her existence on earth.
She has seven solo exhibitions in home and abroad, including Rome, Seoul and NewYork and many important group exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world.
My artwork titled “Cast my vote for Socrates’ acquittal” is a memoir of a lonely soul. When I was invited by Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation to be a participating artist in FoH, I was already living in an unreal time. Alone in a Brooklyn apartment, far far away from home, during a time when covid was at its peak in NewYork, somehow my creative endeavors managed to keep me busy with work I was extremely passionate about.
After hearing about so many fatalities from covid, I tried hard not to be demoralized keeping the essence of Hope alive within. Different elements around me, such as the beautiful nasturtium flower from my childhood memories or the tree outside my window, the spring breeze or rain helped keep me optimistic for the future. They gave me Hope. But even then, I couldn’t help but compare myself to Odysseus, stranded in strange lands away from my family. This thought came forth because I was reading The Odyssey and researching about ancient Greek society, a topic I always found extremely intriguing. I found out that the earliest recorded pandemic happened in Athens in 430 BC.
May 2020 was shocking not just for me but the entire country when George Floyd was tragically murdered. I will never forget the protests, hearing gunfire from my room, writings of Black Lives Matter on the streets, frequent fireworks up in the sky and people gathering in the streets in the name of human rights. The death of George Floyd has raised the question of equality and freedom as did the death of Socrates more than 2 millennia ago. Socrates and Floyd have nothing in common between them and come from two very different times but both survived a pandemic to be killed by the rage of man. So I have connected the two characters in one thread placing them in the context of freedom, human rights, justice and respect. For this project I have taken a page from the history of the trials of Socrates where 280 jurors found him guilty and 220 jurors voted for his acquittal.
Those 220 people who valued Socrates, valued humanity. It is the group I would like to be part of and I want to keep the process of questioning alive. In this artwork the 221 painted stones represent the 220 votes cast by the jurors and mine for Socrates’ acquittal.
I chose stone and paper as my ballot. I chiseled the stone arduously to see the reflection of my inner strength on the hard surface and the print it yielded on paper. The organic characteristics and texture of the stone mixed with black acrylic paint and the multi-layered impression on paper enabled me to create a collective voice.
I believe only Hope can give us the strength to fight society’s injustice. With the 221 stones I am advocating for human rights and justice. I would also like to invite anyone and everyone to join me by adding stones of their own to vote for these ideals, questioning till the end of time.
Cast my vote for Socrates’ acquittal
Full Artwork Size: Variable
221 Artwork Size Each: 22.86 cm X 15.24 cm
Media: Hand pressed impression with chiseled stone and black acrylic paint on 221 pieces of 300 gsm watercolor paper
Stone: 4.6 lb (weight), Size: 16 (L) cm X 14 (W) cm X 9 (H) cm