Drik's 2015 Calendar: "Intimacy"


Quiet moments, tender thoughts, wistful emptiness make up our love songs. Raindrops on misty windowpanes, the cool breeze of dusk, dry leaves, fill our odes to belonging. We pine. Almost inaudibly we whisper, I miss you. Intimacy is most intensely felt through absence. The warmth of togetherness, shared secrets, discovered moments remind us of how it had been. I miss you, we whisper again. Intimacy is personal. Bitter sweet. Painful. Exuberant. Wondrous.

But merchandised through Valentine?s Days and anniversaries, fetishised by the sex industry, marketed ad-nauseum by advertising agencies and appropriated by consumer culture, a very different public expression of intimacy comes to the fore. Glittering diamonds and romantic holidays mark the celebration of intimate moments, we are told. Solitude found in remote villas, faraway destinations and exotica, with no expenses spared, are the measure of true love. Intimacy, like all else is a product to be bought. Physical, material, tradable. With intimacy indicators available in multiple currencies.

So is intimacy global? Does one size fit all? Is closeness measurable? What are our most intimate moments? Are we intimate with God? Is it about dark secrets, moments shared? What words do we choose to describe intimacy? Is it about closeness, warmth, trust? Do these words mean the same to everyone? Ami tomai bhalobashi is how one would say ?I love you? in Bangla. ?I feel good about you? is about as close as it might translate. Is it that cosyness, the lack of fear, the comfort of a reassuring voice? Where it is not proper to be holding hands, is intimacy about recognizing a footstep? Listening to a familiar heartbeat?

How would an artist take the word beyond the clich?s of sex, romance and stolen trysts? How intimate is one with oneself? What would Google Translate make of a word like obhiman? Would the algorithm churn out hurt, or anger, or pain or disappointment? Would it express them all and more? Grasp an emotion that only the intimate can feel? Sense a pain only one ever so close can inflict? Imply a breach of trust, even though no promises have been made? Allude to an expectation that relies not on logic but an elusive sense of belonging? Can it sense a tear that has not yet been shed? Hear a stifled sob? Is there a word for a backward glance that was never made? Can it foresee a smothered sigh or a quivering lip? What tone is joy? What colour is pain?

We invite photographers to probe into the depths of personal space. To reach out to the wider universe. To challenge perceptions of belonging. To question ideas of ownership and bonding. To bring back stories of intimacy that will touch our souls and fire our imagination.

Shahidul Alam
Festival Director













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.”

2 thoughts on “Drik's 2015 Calendar: "Intimacy"”

  1. Closeness
    Calm minutes, delicate contemplations, thoughtful vacancy make up our affection melodies. Raindrops on hazy windowpanes, the cool wind of sunset, dry leaves, fill our tributes to having a place. We pine. Inaudibly we whisper, I miss you. Closeness is most strongly felt through nonappearance. The glow of harmony, shared insider facts, found minutes help us to remember how it had been. I miss you, we whisper once more. Closeness is close to home. Self-contradicting. Excruciating. Abundant. Wondrous.

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