Moving opening ceremony of "Kalpana's Warriors"

Remarkable: Noam Chomsky

Absolutely stunning: Jess Worth. New Internationalist Magazine (Oxford)

We had a fabulous opening with moving recitation of Kabita Chakma’s poem “I will defy” by Aungmakhai ChakMarium Rupa and Rahnuma Ahmed. Many of the warriors were present in person. We were sad to miss Saydia Gulrukh, but her presence was felt.

I will resist, I shall defy
Will you do as you please?
You turned my home into sand
It was a forest where I stand
You made daylight go dark
Left it barren never a spark
I will resist. I shall defy
You strip me of my land
On my women, your hand
No longer shall I see
No longer will I be
Abandon, neglect, rage
A throbbing womb, my stage
I curl, I tear asunder
Awake, I search, I wander
I am who I am
And I will resist
I shall defy
Poem by Kabita Chakma
Translation by Shahidul Alam
Thanks to Arshad Jamal and Chris Riley for their support and Mohammad Mohsin Miah for helping with the printing. ASM Rezaur Rahman curated the show and the entire teams from Drik’s Publication, Gallery, Photography and Audio Visual Department as well as the volunteers from Pathshala did a wonderful job. We shall resist and we will continue to defy.

#kalpana ‘s Warriors by #Shahidul Alam at #Drik Gallery #photography #art #bangladesh #CHT #rights #dhaka #dhanmondi

A photo posted by Shahidul Alam (@shahidul001) on


Opening of "Kalpana's Warriors" at Drik Gallery II. Photo by Habibul@Drik
Opening of “Kalpana’s Warriors” at Drik Gallery II. Photo by Habibul@Drik

 

Opening of #kalpanaswarriors at #Drik gallery #dhaka #dhanmondi #photography #bangladesh #cht #rights A photo posted by Shahidul Alam (@shahidul001) on

Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors_Exehibition Opening Kalpana's Warriors exhibition opening at Drik Gallery

Kalpana's Warriors

Remarkable: Noam Chomsky

Absolutely stunning: Jess Worth. New Internationalist Magazine (Oxford)

E-Invitation card

They told me you were quiet. But I felt the rage in your silence. That when you spoke, they rose above themselves. But I felt their fear. That they held you amidst them. But I felt their loneliness. They pointed to the Koroi tree where you would all meet. The banyan tree under which you spoke. Ever so powerfully. They pointed to the mud floor, where you slept. I touched the mat that you had rested upon, and I knew I had found the vessel that must hold your image.

New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government had still not honored the terms of the peace accord nor addressed the Jumma peoples concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government had still not honored the terms of the peace accord nor addressed the Jumma peoples concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

They had tried to erase you, your people, your memory. They had torched your homes and when coercion failed, when you remained defiant, they took you away, in the dead of night.
Abandoned typewriter in the room where Kalpana and her comrades used to meet. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Abandoned typewriter in the room where Kalpana and her comrades used to meet. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The leaves burned as the soldiers stood and watched. The same leaves they weave to make your mat. The same leaves I shall burn, to etch your image. Will the burning mat hold your pain? Will the charred leaves hold your anger? Will the image rising from the crisp ashen leaves reignite us? Will you return Kalpana?
Pahari protestors could previously go to the GOC's office to express their grievances. Today, in Khagrachori, they no longer have that access. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Pahari protestors could previously go to the GOC’s office to express their grievances. Today, in Khagrachori, they no longer have that access. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The Shapla Mor in Khagrachori was also a centre of protest. Pahari protesters are no longer allowed there, though Bangali settlers have access, says Kabita Chakma, former president of the Hill Women's Federation. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
The Shapla Mor in Khagrachori was also a centre of protest. Pahari protesters are no longer allowed there, though Bangali settlers have access, says Kabita Chakma, former president of the Hill Women’s Federation. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

For nineteen years I have waited, my unseen sister. For nineteen years they have waited, your warriors. Pahari, Bangali, men, women, young old. Was it what you said? What you stood for? Was it because you could see beyond the land, and language, the shape of one?s eyes and see what it meant to be a citizen of a free nation? For pahari, bangali, bihari, man, woman, hijra, rich, poor, destitute, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Animist.
Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

You had reminded us that a nation that fought oppression, could not rule by oppressing. That a people that fought for a language, could not triumph by suppressing another?s. That the martyrs who died, so we might be free, did not shed their blood, so we could become tyrants. That we who overcame the bullets and bayonets of soldiers, must never again be ruled through the barrel of a gun.
That Kalpana is what binds us. That is why Kalpana, you are not a pahari, or a woman or a chakma or a buddhist, but each one of us. For there can be no freedom that is built on the pain of the other. No friendship that relies on fear. No peace at the muzzle of a gun.
These Kalpana are your warriors. They have engaged in different ways, at different levels, sometimes with different beliefs. Some have stayed with you from the beginning. Others have drifted. They have not always shared political beliefs. But for you Kalpana, my unseen sister, they fight as one.
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The Process

The process involved in creating these images are rooted to the everyday realities of the hill people, the paharis. Repeatedly, the interviewees talked of the bareness of Kalpana?s home. That there was no furniture, that Kalpana slept on the floor on a straw mat.


Rather than print on conventional photographic media, we decided we would use material that was part of pahari daily lives. The straw mat became our canvas. The fire that had been used to raze pahari homes, also needed to be represented, so a laser beam was used to burn the straw, etching with flames, the images of rebellion.
It was the politics of this interaction that determined the physicality of the process. The laser beam consisted of a binary pulse. A binary present on our politics. In order to render the image, the image had to be converted in various ways. From RGB to Greyscale to Bitmap, from 16 bit to 8 bit to 1 bit. To keep detail in the skin tone despite the high contrast, the red channel needed to be enhanced. The Resolution and intensity and duration of the laser beam needed to be brought down to levels that resulted in the straw being selectively charred but not burnt to cinders.
A screen ruling that separated charred pixels while maintaining gradation had to be carefully selected. And then, working backwards, a lighting mechanism needed to be found that broke up the image into a discrete grid of light and dark tones, providing the contrast, the segmentation and the gradation, necessary to simulate the entire range of tones one expects in a fine print. This combination of lighting, digital rendering, printing technique and choice of medium, has led to the unique one off prints you see in this exhibition. A tribute to a unique woman that had walked among us.

Global Photography Exhibition Opens at UN Rights Council Meeting

Photographs Humanize Rule of Law and Access to Justice

Photographers: Kabir Dhanji, Lucas Lenci, Shehzad Noorani, Vicky Roy, Farzana Wahidy
Curator: Shahidul Alam
?In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Agenda,? a photo exhibition on the challenges of development and the rule of law by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) and Majority World photo agency, launches on the 2nd March 2015?during the opening of the UN Human Rights Council Meeting in Geneva.
IDLO_Photo Exhib 2015_Booklet_WEB FINAL_Page_01 800 pix
Continue reading “Global Photography Exhibition Opens at UN Rights Council Meeting”

Embracing the Amateur

Photo: Javed Miandad Design: Mahbub/Drik
Photo: Javed Miandad
Design: Mahbub/Drik

We spot a lens peering at us from the corner of our eye. Immediately we straighten up, fix our hair, smooth the rough in our clothes, consciously make – or avoid – eye contact. Only the well trained is able to visibly avoid responding to the camera?s presence. The professional photographer prides in her ability to take ?natural? photographs, where her intervention is invisible. Yet, peering through family albums, wedding folders or a Facebook status we find ourselves actively inviting the portrayal of how we want to be seen. Whether we consider a photograph of ourselves to be ?good? largely depends on how well the photographer has represented us, as we would want it. As such the photographer?s success depends not so much on her aesthetic sense or insight, but on her ability to please the sitter. While this applies to the casual portraitist, it is much more true of the professional photographer. Her bread and butter depend on a satisfied client and as such, are driven by an external agenda. Whether it be a corporation, or an NGO or a newly wed couple, a good photographer is one who delivers what is required. Continue reading “Embracing the Amateur”

Chasing Windmills

AZIZUR RAHIM PEU, born 10th June 1964, died 14 October 2014

Azizur Rahim Peu
Azizur Rahim Peu

?If you let me go, I?ll kill myself.? I?d never given a job to anyone before. So this response to my suggestion that there was a better future for him elsewhere, was something I wasn?t prepared for. I had returned to Bangladesh after having been away for twelve years. Not having the capital myself, I had set up a photographic studio in partnership with a businessman cum photographer Khan Mohammad Ameer and his businessmen brothers. The studio ?Fotoworld? was posh, and we photographed the glitterati. We also took pictures of factories, the odd milk powder tin, food, cigarette cartons and pretty much anything people would pay us (and sometimes not pay us) to shoot. Azizur Rahim Peu was my first recruit. I?d come to know him through the Bangladesh Photographic Society, where I was the general secretary and had taken an immediate liking to the young man. Continue reading “Chasing Windmills”

Drik's 25th Anniversary

The dot matrix Olivetti printer was noisy. The XT computer came without a hard drive: two floppy disks uploaded the operating system. When the electricity went (as it often did), we had to reload it. Our bathroom doubled as our darkroom. A clunky metal cabinet housed our prints, slides, negatives and files. Anisur Rahman and Abu Naser Siddique were our printers; I was photographer, manager, copy editor and part-time janitor. Cheryle Yin-Lo, an Australian who had read about us in a magazine, joined as our librarian. We offered and she happily accepted a local salary.
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The New Internationalist Magazine in Oxford, has been a long time friend and supporter. This two page spread was put together by them to commemorate Drik’s 25th anniversary. Thanks NI. Continue reading “Drik's 25th Anniversary”

Call for themes: Chobi Mela VIII

Theme for
Chobi Mela VIII

Win a festival catalogue!
Deadline: 28 February 2014

Propose your theme for Chobi Mela VIII, January 2015

Chobi Mela, the international festival of photography since its inception in 2000 has aimed at exploring the semiotics of present day photographic practice in a broad international context, to bring about an understanding of the medium both within the industry and amongst the public at large. The past festivals, thematically addressed?Differences, Exclusion, Resistance, Boundaries,?Freedom, Dreams and Fragility?provided an opportunity to fine art photographers, conceptual artists and photo journalists, to explore possibilities, in its myriad forms.
Chobi Mela invites you to propose a theme for its upcoming eighth edition. Proposals will then be debated online and followed by a poll. The most voted theme will be chosen for the next festival and will win an exciting copy of the Chobi Mela VIII catalogue.
Deadline: 28 February 2014
Drop your theme and be a part of world?s most inclusive festival!

http://chobimela.org/chobimela-viii/
Best regards,
Chobi Mela Secretariat
Dhaka, Bangladesh
E-mail:?chobimela@drik.net

Silver threads, frayed seams

Until

Off to work, Mirpur, Dhaka. September 12, 2012. Photo ? AM Ahad
Off to work, Mirpur, Dhaka. September 12, 2012. Photo ? AM Ahad

Continue reading “Silver threads, frayed seams”

Twisted

By Mishka Fernando


Was asked one day if I thought of murdering my curls,
If I wanted ’em straight and artificial,like most other girls..
Horrified as I was I wondered why I loved them so
Then I realized my curls were me.
How? I’m sure you would like to know.
Stubborn, uptight, impossible to control
Its got moods, attitudes with which no one knows what to do.
It bends sometimes under pressure and strain
But can be messy, really frizzy, a total pain.
It goes wild sometimes or relaxes subdued.
Or will just not do anything, like it’s in some frightful mood.
Hates others messing with it, yet loves a ‘lil praise.
Can look calm, cool and collected yet can burst into craze
My curls are me! My exact personality
Advice all you need, these curls are mine for keeps
You can call me vain but I’ll always love ’em heaps.
Mishka Fernando

50 years of independence

The 1971 memory project

I am starting this project with the hope that people across the globe can help me identify and hopefully trace as many people as possible in these photographs. I shall be regularly uploading images and linking them up with my social media. Please comment, link, tag, share these images and help me locate the people in them. Please also feel free to share insights into the situation, particularly if you happen to have been present.
I would like to complete this by 2021, when I would like to curate a major show to commemorate 50 years of Independence. Please feel free to send me pictures to. Please try to provide as much information as you can about the photograph and the photographer. Ideally we would like all the photographs to be credited.
Thanks for your help.
Shahidul Alam.
Here is the first image. It was taken by one of our finest photojournalists, and a dear friend,?Rashid Talukder. The photograph was taken on the 10th January 1972, when Mujib returned to an independent Bangladesh upon his release from captivity in Pakistan. The person dangling from the jeep with the Rollei hanging is another famous Bangladeshi photographer Aftab Ahmed:
 

The return to Bangladesh of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, released from captivity in Pakistan. Photo: Rashid Talukder/Drik/Majority World
The return to Bangladesh of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, released from captivity in Pakistan. Photo: Rashid Talukder/Drik/Majority World

You may tag individuals in this photograph here?(Requires Facebook)