Fending with Fulcrums

Shahidul Alam, Guadalajara, Mexico
November 2017

There is no government I know that does not champion democracy and human rights in its rhetoric but also actively suppress both in its practice. It’s best to recognise that reality and work within it rather than fantasise on some ideal solution that has no relevance to everyday art practice. So we use the tactics of judo wrestlers, using the opponent’s weight and turning it to our advantage. We use fulcrums and gravity and capitalise on the inherent inertia of the establishment. We are nimble and fleeting. As Ali might have done, we flit like the butterfly and sting like the bee.

A student who had been picked up in a massive police raid, reaches out for help from the prison van. photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

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As Drik As Possible

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. My partner Rahnuma Ahmed often got roped in when we were short-staffed, which was often.

Climate_Migrants
Climate Migrants: “Our people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” Alanis Obomsawin Photo Abir Abdullah from his series on Climate Change.

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As Drik as Possible

Introduction to the Drik 2016 calendar.

A behind the scenes glimpse at a remarkable media phenomenon:

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. Md. 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 western magazine, joined as our librarian. We offered and she happily accepted a local salary.

Continue reading “As Drik as Possible”

Shahidul Alam presenting at Tate Modern

Violence and Representation – Part 6 18 September 2010 by Shahidul Alam

To coincide with the exhibition Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera, this symposium explores violence as a subject in relation to representations in the broadest range of historical and geographical?contexts.
It includes international artists, photojournalists and theorists who from their distinctive perspectives will attempt to unveil notions of spectatorship and consumption of violent images in contemporary culture. Key questions will encompass the notion of the political, apolitical or depoliticised spectator of representations of violence; the consequences of these kinds of practice and the difference between photo reportage and art photography. Speakers include Shahidul Alam, Steve Edwards, Susan Meiselas, Simon Norfolk, John Roberts, Julian Stallabrass and Alberto Toscano. Lawyer Rupert Grey was a discussant. Supported by Oxford Art Journal, Oxford University Press, the Open University and the British?Council.

Shahidul Alam interviewed on Radio Australia

Shahidul Alam interviewed on Radio Australia

It’s a photographic exhibition that’s being described as “a quiet metaphor for the screaming truth.”
From early days, the force became notorious for the number of people killed, allegedly during gun battles, because they had been caught in the ‘crossfire’.
To draw attention to these killings, photographer Shahidul Alam created a project callled ‘Crossfire’ which has shown amidst?controversy?in Bangladesh. The show later went to Queen’s Museum in New York and now comes to Australia.
Presenter: Liam Cochrane
Speakers: Shahidul Alam, award-winning photographer and human rights activist.
Exhibitions in Powerhouse Museum Brisbane: Bangladesh 1971 and?Crossfire
Please Retweet #stopcrossfire

Shahidul Alam: Crossfire

Public event???By?BRISBANE POWERHOUSE

7 November?at?09:00?until?3 December?at?17:00 in UTC+10
Paddy Field. ??Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Photographer, journalist, and human rights activist Shahidul Alam examines the issue of the increasing number of extra-judicial killings
in Bangladesh.

In 2004 the Bangladesh government created a new armed enforcement agency, The Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), in response to a perceived law and order crisis. From early days RAB became notorious for the number of people that have been killed, allegedly during gun battles, because they?ve been caught in the ?crossfire?.
Shahidul Alam?s Crossfire project was first shown in Bangladesh in 2010 to draw attention to these killings. The government responded by shutting down the show. Eventually, facing a court ruling in favor of Alam, the government backed down and the show was reopened for a day.
Following a successful showing at the Queens Museum of Art New York in April, 2012, this exhibition marks the first time it will be shown in Australia.
Opening night: 6.30pm Wed 07 Nov
Brisbane Powerhouse
Presented by Drik, UQ?s Centre of Communication and Social Change, School of Journalism and Communication, Griffith University?s Queensland College of Art (QCA) and Brisbane Powerhouse

Limon urged to settle

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Related links:

Cowardice unlimited!

by rahnuma ahmed

Limon Hossain with father Tofazzel Akan, mother Henoara Begum,?and amuptated leg. Pongu Hospital, Dhaka, 2011.

RAB's top-ranking officials briefing the press about the attack on Limon.?2011, Dhaka.

Shame on the government!
Shame on the director general, RAB!
Shame on the inspector general of police!
Have the last four years of ruling totally erased all conscience, not even a tiny speck left? Don’t any of you have even an iota of decency? Any little shred of gumption? Of courage?
Does the whole state machinery have to be brought to bear on a 17-year old boy and his family — a family of day labourers, whose youngest son Limon had worked in a brick kiln to pay for his college education until RAB shot off his leg — to pursue your own vendetta? Continue reading “Cowardice unlimited!”

The government's Eid gifts for Limon

by rahnuma ahmed

Limon Hossain, a towering icon of youthful courage and fortitude.?? Daily Star

Everyone was happy this Eid, said the prime minister. Her administration had worked hard to ensure that there were no price hikes, no power cuts. That the roads were in good shape, that the law and order situation was under control.
Sheikh Hasina congratulated herself thus as she exchanged Eid greetings with ?”distinguished guests” and “people from all walks of life” at her official residence. Same press releases year after year, regardless of who’s in power. I remember them from my childhood, no change in wording. Continue reading “The government's Eid gifts for Limon”

RAB victim Limon attacked again

The Daily Star
20th August 2012


Limon Hossain, a Jhalakathi college student maimed by Rab last year, his mother and brother were injured in an attack allegedly by a source of Rapid Action Battalion in Rajapur upazila of the district on Monday.

Local criminal Ibrahim Hawlader intercepted Limon on Chhaturia-Idurbhari road when he was returning to his rented house at Kaukhali upazila of Pirojpur around 5:30pm after celebrating Eid with his family members, reports our Barisal correspondent, quoting Limon?s elder brother Sumon Hossain.

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