London’s Brady Art Centre, according to its online history, was…“Established in 1896 by Jewish
philanthropist Charlotte Rothschild, the club offered children of Spitalfields’s underprivileged, Jewish
immigrants recreational and educational opportunities, as well as holidays to the countryside.”
Today, the Brady Arts Centre is the centre of a multi-ethnic cultural community and popular with the
local Bengali population. It is there that I had the delight of being asked to be a guest, speaking
briefly at the launch of Bangladesh’s intriguing artist Preema Nazia Andaleeb’s exhibition, her art,
paintings, graphics and photographs of her performing as well as of her book (Preema Donna)..
As an added bonus, we were treated to a live performance by Preema, which began in the 100
seater theatre and ended in the exhibition space.
It is one thing to see photographs, or even videos (YouTube et al) of Preema’s performances, but
entirely something else to encounter her interactions when performing live.
The unexpected nature of Preema’s performance at first baffles then intrigues as she vocalises and
reveals the physicality of her interactions with the, by then rapt, audience. But these performances
have to be witnessed live, as they happen. With this we are in the realm of Walter Benjamin, and his
1935 essay ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’ where he posits the notion of
‘aura’, deemed innate in an original work of art, but lost in a reproduction, in this case video.
Author, Founding Editor
The Blue Lotus
(Asian Arts & Culture Magazine)