Art as a Witness


Shahidul Alam to speak at the Colombo Art Biennial : Art as a Witness

Amu Shahidul 2010?Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh

An extraordinary artist ? eloquent with words and images ? Shahidul Alam is a photographer, writer, activist and social entrepreneur, who was profoundly influenced by inequality in Bangladesh, his country and the liberation war.  He left a career in science in the west to pursue a life in photography challenging oppression and imperialism in all its forms. Attacked, arrested, and threatened with death, Alam has built what many consider to be the finest photography school in the world, an award winning agency, and the world?s most demographically diverse photo festival. Widely celebrated, Alam claims as his achievements not the awards he has won or the impressive list of exhibits, but the people he has trained and the lives he has transformed.

His recently launched book ?My journey as a witness? gives a rare insight into the evolution of one of the most significant movements in contemporary photography.  He records the social and artistic struggles that transformed a country known largely for poverty and disasters into one of the giants in contemporary photography.
The book is listed in the ?Best Photo Books of the year 2011? compilation by American Photo Magazine. John Godfrey Morris the former picture editor of Life Magazine has called it ?the most important book ever written by a photographer?. 
Listen to him at the Barefoot Gallery, Galle Road, Colombo 3, Sri Lanka on the 18 February 3:00 to 4:30 pm. when he speaks on ?Art as a Witness.? The talk will be moderated  by Sanjana Hattotuwa.
Painting with pixels a thousand words: a selection of images from his book My journey as a witness

Workers carrying metal sheet, Rahman Yard, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2008. Photograph?Shahidul Alam
Boy tossing ball, Muzzafarabad-Narak Road, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. Photograph?Shahidul Alam
Champa, Naxalite worker, Bangladesh, 1994. Photograph?Shahidul Alam
Student in prison van, Jagannath Hall, Dhaka, Bangladesh, 1996. Photograph?Shahidul Alam

and last but not the least Shanika from Hikkaduwa

Shanika, Hikkaduwa, 2005. Photograph?Shahidul Alam

DATE: 18 February 2012               TIME:  3:00-4:30 pm
VENUE:  Barefoot Gallery, Colombo 3
Contacts: Jeevani Fernando, CAB Secretariat.  Tel:  (94)778443703.

Interview live at 7:00 am Colombo Time on Friday 17th February 2012 on “Good Morning Sri Lanka” in MTV Sports


Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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