Melia Belli Bose received her doctorate in art history, with a focus on the arts of South Asia, from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2009 and is currently associate professor of South Asian art history at the University of Victoria, Canada. Her research examines issues of death, memorialization, gender, and identity in the early modern courtly arts of north India as well as contemporary Bangladesh. Dr. Belli Bose is author of the 2015 monograph Royal Umbrellas of Stone: Memory, Political Propaganda, and Public Identity in Rajput Funerary Art and editor of the 2016 volume Women, Gender, and Art in Asia.
Made in Rana Plaza: Dilara Begum Jolly’s Garment Factory-Themed Art
Contemporary Bangladeshi artist Dilara Begum Jolly (b. 1961) critiques abuses against women, both within her country and globally, through her work. In response to the devastating 2013 collapse of Rana Plaza (an eight-story garment factory in Dhaka that killed over 1,100 workers) Jolly created a series of highly affective artworks, which I present as acts of cultural activism. With their incorporation of workers’ effects Jolly salvaged from Rana Plaza, many of the artworks are haunting and visceral. The artist notes her goal for these works: if strong enough, such a reaction may inspire viewers to buy more ethically and demand grass-roots changes, thus transforming her garment factory-themmed art into a small but powerful act of resistance to a global system of structural violence.