Chobi Mela VI workshops begin

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Indian photographer Sohrab Hura is conducting a workshop ?Untitled? with the 2nd year student?s of Pathshala. The workshop theme for everyone is CARTE BLANCHE, which means everyone is free to do whatever s/he wants. It will continue till 21st January 2011.

Photographs by K M Asad







All Roads Photography Program

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Chobi Mela Featured in National Geographic website:

Photograph by Tom?s Munita

The All Roads Photography Program will be exhibiting its 2010 photography awardees at?Chobi Mela VI, an international festival of photography. Chobi Mela VI opens January 21, 2011 in Bangladesh. This year?s theme is ?Dreams? and is considered the largest exhibition of photography in Asia. The festival is considered to have the most diverse participation of photography in the world. Now having gained an international reputation as one of the leading photography festivals in the world it features 63 exhibitions from 33 participating countries that span all seven continents of the globe. Chobi Mela is unique in having been developed and launched in South Asia.
Shahidul Alam, Chobi Mela festival director and All Roads photography advisory board member, explains the festival?s theme, ?As dream merchants, we [photographers] create images that confront us with horrific facts, and allure us with magical metaphors. We seek a society where love songs are cherished and curiosity celebrated. We conjure up a mystical world, through light and shape and dancing pixels. We toy with perceptions and juggle facts. We trade in the currency of dreams, and flirt with an elusive reality. So to turn to dreams after [past themes] ?Differences?, ?Exclusion?, ?Resistance?, ?Boundaries? and ?Freedom? is perhaps to return to what holds us together in the face of all our obstacles, the foci of all our longings. To realize our dreams is perhaps the ultimate paradise. So we invite dreamers and wanderers and the soulful troubadour, to ignite our imagination. To provoke and goad us out . . . to dream.?
The 2010 Photography Program Awardees Are:
Rashid Talukder (Bangladesh)
Pioneer Photographer Award
Photo essay ?The 1971 Liberation War?
Tom?s Munita (Chile)
Mid-career Photographer Award
Photo essay ?Lost Harvest?The Death of Loa River?
Sumit Dayal (Kashmir)
Emerging Photographer Award
Photo essay ?On Going Home?
View the 2010 All Roads Photography Gallery Here
The Photography Program recognizes and supports talented international storytellers whose still photography documents their changing cultures and communities. Each year four photographers are awarded a financial prize, and their photo essays are exhibited at the All Roads Film Festival and other venues. They also receive photographic accessories and, through workshops, get valuable training to assist in their fieldwork.
Candidates are nominated by an advisory board of leaders from the photography industry and representatives from National Geographic Society.
Selection Criteria

  • Award recipients must be from an indigenous or minority culture within their countries of origin.
  • Award recipients? work must document their changing cultures and community and represent a recent body of work (within the last two years).
  • Potential recipients must be living in the countries that they are documenting.
  • Awards are based on artistic merit in combination with the photojournalistic focus of the project.

Raghu Rai's "Invocation to India"

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New Art Exchange and Aicon Gallery present
Raghu Rai’s Invocation to India
Curated by Saleem Arif Quadri MBE
Exhibition dates: 29 January – 30 April 2011
Private View: Friday 28 January, 6 – 9pm

Also taking place on the night: In Conversation with Niru Ratnam and Saleem Arif Quadri, 8pm
Rai?s work proclaims the rich diversity of contemporary India, with its juxtapositions of ancient and modern, where the people are the landscape. He photographs an India teeming with colour, history, beauty and brilliance whilst uncovering a continent’s domestic rituals with these striking images of Indian street life, festivals and the changing seasons.
“Over the centuries, so much has melded into India that it’s not really one country, and it’s not one culture. It is crowded with crosscurrents of many religions, beliefs, cultures and their practices that may appear incongruous. But India keeps alive the inner spirit of her own civilization with all its contradictions. Here, several centuries have learnt to live side by side at the same time. And a good photograph is a lasting witness to that, as photography is a history of our times: being a multi-lingual, multi- cultured and multi- religious society, the images must speak these complexities through a multi-layered experience.” – Raghu Rai
Rai, who was born in present-day Pakistani in 1942, came to India during Partition and has been witness to some of the most significant events in his country’s recent history. He was one of the first photographers on the scene after the 1984 Bhopal industrial disaster and has produced acclaimed documentary series on Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama and the late Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
In 1977 Henri Cartier-Bresson saw his work at an exhibition in Paris, and recommended him to become a member of Magnum Photo Agency. Since then Rai has taken India as his canvas and produced works that he simply describes as slicing out spaces and moments in front of him. Rai has taken the documentary form associated with Cartier-Bresson and the Magnum tradition and pushed it in a way that responds to the specificities of India. He captures the ways in which the past co-exists with the present in India, and on a more subtle level, the visual rhymes and congruities between the different components in his works. His works attest to a multi-layered reality, where people, objects, animals and buildings jostle with each other, where people’s own personal space is overlaid and invaded by each other’s space.
Other major books include projects on the Taj Mahal, Tibet, Sikhs, Dreams of India, Tibet and his recent book on Indian Musicians (2010). A regular contributor to a huge range of international journals and British broadsheets, from ’90 to ’97 Rai judged the World Press Photo Awards.
With nearly 50 years of excellence and an extraordinary contribution to world photography and Indian photography in particular, in honour of his extensive photographic oeuvre and recognition of his commitment to excellence, in 1971 Rai was awarded one of India’s highest civilian accolades – the Padma Shri.
As part of Format International Photography Festival 2011
Raghu Rai has taught at Pathshala and has been a featured artist at Chobi Mela.
Raghu’s exhibition at Drik’s 20th anniversary

Countdown to Chobi Mela VI

Are you dreaming of coming to Chobi Mela VI or wishing you were coming?. A wish is voluntary and you make it consciously and have some power over making it come true.? Dreams on the other hand by definition, involve our unconscious mind. Do we have power over our dreams? Or do they have power over us? Can we make a wish come true ? 10 days to go to find out.

Yes, the countdown has started and taking a closer look at behind the scenes?of the festival?was Channel I, one of the partners of the Chobi Mela festival.

M. Mahbubur Rahman hard at work on the exhibition prints. Photograph Habibul Haque.

M. Mahbubur Rahman meticulously checks colours of prints. Photograph Habibul Haque

Getting ready for the interviews. Photograph Saikat Mojumder

Shahidul Alam, Festival Director on Chobi Mela VI: Our right to dream on for a better majority world. Photograph Mahbub Alam Khan

Abir Abdullah Vice Principal Pathshala South Asian Media Academy. Photograph Saikat Mojumder

This entry was posted in?Chobi Mela,?Chobi Mela VI Partners,?Dreams

Poet With a Kodak and a Restless Eye

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By?HOLLAND COTTER

Published: September 12, 2010

WASHINGTON ? The poet?Allen Ginsberg, who died in 1997, adored life, feared death and craved fame. These obsessions seemed to have kept him, despite his practice of Buddhist meditation, from sitting still for long. He was constantly writing, teaching, traveling, networking, chasing lovers, sampling drugs, pushing political causes and promoting the work of writer friends.

?? The Allen Ginsberg LLC

?Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg?: Neal Cassady and Natalie Jackson in San Francisco, in the show at the National Gallery of Art in Washington.?More Photos ?

In the early 1950s he began to photograph these friends in casual snapshots, meant to be little more than souvenirs of a shared time and ethos. Years later his picture taking ? often of the same friends, now battered by life or approaching death ? became more formal and artful, as if he were trying to freeze his subjects? faces and energies, and to show off his photographic skills, for the history books.
Nearly 80 pictures, early and late, many with handwritten inscriptions, are on view through Thursday in ?Beat Memories: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg? at theNational Gallery of Art here. Some are familiar; others rarely seen. As arranged by Sarah Greenough, the senior curator in the museum?s department of photographs, they form a continuous narrative. In the space of two small galleries we watch legends take shape, beauties fade, an American era come and go.
Ginsberg began his photographic chronicle of what would become the Beat generation in earnest in 1953, when he was in his late 20s and living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He had known the group?s crucial personalities ??William S. Burroughs, Gregory Corso,?Jack Kerouac and their communal muse Neal Cassady ? since his student days at Columbia. He regarded them collectively, himself very much included, as a new literary vanguard. The work they were doing in the early ?50s seemed to confirm his faith. And his early pictures, taken with a secondhand Kodak, project a buoyant confidence.
We see figures who would soon enough become cultural monuments still vital and mercurial. In one much-published picture Kerouac, smoking and brooding, is already a romantic hero, but in another he?s a mugging cut-up on an East Village street ?making a?Dostoyevsky mad-face,? to quote Ginsberg?s caption.
Continue reading “Poet With a Kodak and a Restless Eye”

Chobi Mela VI submission deadline extended till 14 August 2010

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Dear Photographers,
It appears that the extremely large number of incomplete submissions may have been caused by the server having problems coping with the very large number of entries. As such we have decided to extend the deadline for one more week.
Dhaka is six hours ahead of GMT. The best time to upload is between 10:00 pm to 06:00 am Dhaka time.
In case you still have problems uploading, please send a mail to Mostafa Sorower and we will provide you information to submit via FTP. Alternatively, please send mail by yousendit.com or some similar method with a mail to Mustafa and we will download it from here.
Best wishes,
Shahidul Alam
Festival Director
Chobi Mela VI

Soulscapes

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The soul in question

Amirul Rajiv

Curator & Editor Soulscapes

Today, we are threatened by a drive towards a rigid social conformity and the struggle between differing conceptions of public morality and individual freedom. In this battleground the soul plays the role of a pawn. `Soulscapes? desperately seeks to explore these issues, beginning with an examination of society – the soul created and recreated ? and then moving through photographs and texts that consider the soul abused, objectified, discovered, aroused, desired, censored, mythologized, manipulated and celebrated. The images are corporeal, about the strengths, and vulnerabilities, of this most tangible manifestation of personal experience, ourselves, whether the soul in question is a child, a victim of suicide, a burning body or someone at the point of prostitution. Curating and editing might really be an instance of self-censorship, one of the most subtle and insidious assaults on literature and the arts. We hope that our audience will take this exhibition of `Soulscapes? to heart and mind at a moment when our souls are increasingly questioned and menaced.

Survivors. ??GMB Akash

Soulscapes

GMB Akash
With every picture you take, you enter a space that is unknown to you as a photographer. In the beginning it feels like forbidden territory, a place you are not supposed to enter surrounded by borders of privacy you are not supposed to cross. You, the photographer, are there at a factory, a old home or a brothel with your simple black bag hanging from your shoulder, eying everything around you as you are eyed by the people there. The first days following these intrusions I never take pictures because they would not be good. I wouldn’t know the people I met, wouldn’t understand the place I had just entered ? my photography would be stale and meaningless.
But there is always that moment when it feels completely natural to open that bag. And also there is no way of telling why it comes. Suddenly, I have a friendly conversation, or the afternoon light makes everybody around me relaxed and mellow, or someone looks at me in a trusting yet familiar way.
Then I take out my camera, and for me and everybody around me it is the most natural thing to do. There is consent. People don’t accuse me, or reject me or pose in unnatural ways. They are just there, doing what they normally do. Then I click away, and it feels like a conversation, a conversation between me and the people, between me and the location, between me and the light, between me and the souls that make this place alive. In such moments a landscape becomes a soulscape.
After such moments, life where I am working becomes trivial again, and the next day everybody asks for their photographs, and there is no difference if the people are girls from a brothel, children who work in a factory or farmers from the countryside.
But these little exchanges bring us closer to each other, and the ties between us, which started with small talk and conversation and continued with the first pictures I took, will become deeper and more meaningful, and so will the pictures I take.
And the closer I get to them and the deeper our friendship becomes, the simpler my photography gets. I am no longer looking for special angles or artistic points of views; I just open myself to these people, take a good look, frame and wait for the right moment. When I walk home, I have all the moments that I missed in my head, and they will become my source of inspiration in the days to come.
I see the beauty of people and the human soul in the pictures I take. And though the circumstances of some of the people I portray may be grim, back-breaking, depraved, the people themselves are always remarkable characters and souls. And it is my duty as a photographer and artist to point with my pictures at every aspect of existence in the society and world I live in, to show what can be shown, to go deep into every milieu and also into every aspect of poverty, deprivation and hardship that I encounter ? because the only sin for a photographer is to turn his head and look away.
Inaugural ceremony: Tuesday, 6 pm, 1 June 2010
Bengal Gallery of Fine Arts
Bengal Shilpalaya
House 275/F, Road 16 (new)
Sheikh Kamal Sarani
Dhanmandi, Dhaka 1209
The exhibition will remain open until 10 June 2010, daily from 12 – 8 pm

Masterclass

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It feels strange to be called a ‘master’ when the ‘students’ are such hugely talented photographers. When it includes the inimitable grandmaster David Burnett in our midst the discomfort is complete.
dr-burnett-600px.jpg ? Jan Grarup
It was a delight to be in his company again. Though I’ve always enjoyed his images, and we’ve been co-jurors of WPP, this was the first time we’d spent so much time together. The poster for the first ever Chobi Mela in 2000, with his iconic image of the Muktibahini, still hangs on Drik’s corridor. Poor Munem Wasif travelled all the way to Amsterdam only to find his bearded tutor again.
sirio_058.jpgsirio_013.jpgsirio_066.jpgsirio_065.jpgsirio_048.jpgsirio_077.jpgsirio_117.jpg ? Sirio Magnabosco
But the pleasure of such company, the energy within those four walls and the sheer joy of seeing such wonderful images, made up for any qualms I might have had. David’s presentation was humbling. It’s candor, its warmth, the enormous breadth of his work and the unquestionable quality of the photography left me breathless.
the-war-we-forgot-1971-600px.jpg ? David Burnett/Contact Press Images. Design Reza/Drik

The WPP awards for Christoph, C?dric and Rafel that came in yesterday, was a welcome bonus, but an expected one. This was photography at its finest and despite the vagaries of judging and the imperfections of any selection process, photography such as this must surely rise to the surface.
Oh to be a student again!
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? C?dric Gerbehaye, Belgium, Agence Vu. Congo in Limbo. General News, 3rd Prize Stories. WPP contest 2007
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? Rafal Milach, Poland, Anzenberger Agency. Retired circus artists, Poland. Arts and Entertainment, 1st Prize Stories. WPP contest 2007

christoph.jpg

? Christoph Bangert, Germany, Laif. German Army sniper practice target, Kunduz, Afghanistan, 27 April. General News Singles, Honourable Mention. WPP contest 2007
Joop Swart Masterclass 2007:
Masters:
Shahidul Alam
Susan Bright
David Burnett
Ayperi Ecer
Jan Grarup
Barbara Stauss
Brian Storm
Students:
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad
Olivia Arthur
Christoph Bangert
Kate Brooks
Alexandra Demenkova: Sasha
Agnes Dherbeys
C?dric Gerbehaye
Sirio Magnabosco
Rafal Milach
Munem Wasif
Irina Werning
Xin Zhou

Taking care of the caretaker

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It was a dramatic ending to Robert Pledge?s presentation. Via Topu and Omi, I?d received the news that the military had been called out. Robert wanted to finish the presentation, but once I?d announced the government?s decision, the auditorium of the Goethe Institut quickly emptied out. This particular Chobi Mela IV presentation had come to an abrupt end. It was 1987 revisited.

noor-hossain-low.jpg

Noor Hossain had painted on his back ?Let Democracy be Freed? and the police had gunned him down on the 10th November 1987. But the people had taken to the streets and while we were scared the military would come out, there was no stopping us. It had taken three more years of street protests, before the general was forced to step down. The people had won. But then it had been a military general who was ruling the country. This was a civilian caretaker government. The general mistrust of a party in power, had resulted in this unique process in Bangladesh where an interim neutral caretaker government headed by a Chief Adviser (generally the most recently retired Chief Justice) and consisting of other neutral but respected members of the public were entrusted with conducting the elections. Why then the military? Yes, the president was a Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP, the largest party in the outgoing coalition government) appointee, there are ten advisors who are meant to be neutral.

A free and fair election hasn?t yielded the electoral democracy we had hoped for. After each term, the people have voted out the party in power, only to be rebuffed by a political system that has never had the interest of the people on their agenda. Still, the elections were held, and despite the fact that there had been one rigged election in 1996 (rejected and held again under a neutral caretaker government), an electoral process of democratisation, was slowly developing.

This time however, the total disregard for the electoral process has created a sham, and the three key people in this electoral process, the president, the chief adviser, and the chief election commissioner (CEC), are colluding against the people. The first two, being represented by the same person, was a BNP appointee. He also happens to be the head of the military. The CEC, now a cartoon character, had also been appointed by the BNP while it was in power. Coupled with a clearly flawed voters list, this has removed any hope of a free and fair election. Can the caretaker government genuinely conduct a fair election? I believe it still can, if given the chance, despite the president?s lack of credibility. But for that to happen, the military, the bureaucracy and the police need to remember that it is with the people that their allegiance lies.

However, it does depend upon the removal of the other obstacles. The election commissioner cannot constitutionally be removed, and his removal is central to the opposition demands. What then can we do? There is only one body higher than the constitution, the people themselves. The advisors need to be empowered if they are to pull off this election. Sandwiched between a partisan executive head and another partisan CEC, the advisers risk becoming irrelevant. The only way this can be checked is if people come out in droves. Not ?hired for the day? supporters but ordinary people committed to civilian rule, and a multi-party system.

It is we the people who need to take to the streets. And it is time we sent out the message to all political parties, that an entire nation cannot be appropriated. They need to be told that we did not liberate our country in vain, and despite the poverty and the hardship that we go through, we will not be cowed down, and will not blindly tow a party line, when the party itself has disengaged from the people. If tomorrow, every woman man and child takes to the street of Bangladesh, there is no power, not the military, not the president, not the advisers, not the CEC, not the BNP and not AL that can stop us.

There is hope yet. The advisers have had the good sense to reverse the home ministry?s unilateral decision to call out the army and the president and chief adviser has been challenged for taking such a step. Whether the advisers can continue to take such bold steps depends on our ability to bolster their nebulous position.

Blockades and hartals do hurt the economy, and ironically, it is the person in the street who is the most vulnerable. But faced with an attempt to take away the only chance she has to exercise her right to elect the government of her choice, she has little option left but to take to the streets. As the world is finding out, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and wherever else there is conflict, a military victory is never a victory. If the anger of the people is to be quelled, then the underlying causes of discontent need to be solved. Flexing the muscles of the military, will only put a lid on the boiling pot, and the longer the lid is pressed down, the bigger will be the eventual explosion. More have died today, and with every death, the flashpoint looms closer.

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Chobi Mela IV has continued despite it all. The dancing in the all night boat party,

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the heated arguments at every meeting point, the mobile exhibitions, all went on despite the turmoil. The presentations on the night of the 11th, with Yumi Goto, showing work by the children from Bandar Aceh, Neo Ntsoma showing her work on youth culture in South Africa, Chris Rainier showing his long term projects on ?Ancient Marks?, and the deeply personal, but very different accounts of Trent Parke

chobi-mela-trent-opening-0931.jpg

and Pablo Bartholomew, made one of the most intriguing evenings I can remember. The packed audience that had braved the blockade had perhaps an inkling of what was to come. Morten had a full house for his ?gallery walk? at the Alliance Francaise and Trent?s workshops were packed out. The grand opening was at the National Museum, where we had one fifth of the cabinet opening the show. Kollol gave a passionate rendering of his song ?Boundaries? written especially for the festival. The rickshaw vans designed to take the festival to the public, plied the streets of Old Dhaka, Mirpur and other areas not used to gallery crowds.

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The chief guest, adviser C.M. Shafi Sami, the special guests adviser Sultana Kamal and Robert Pledge, photographers Morten Krogvold and Trent Parke and the scholarship recepient Dolly Akhter all spoke eloquently. Little did the audience know about the drama that had taken place the night before. With the museum functionaries doing their best to keep us from putting up the Contact Press Images show (http://www.chobimela.org/contact_press_images.php), we were under pressure, but working all through the night and sleeping on the museum floor, we managed to put the show up on time.

Last night, the empty streets, looked ominous as I dropped off Chulie, Robert and Yang, and people have been dying in the streets.

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Since then we have had Morten Krogvold?s passionate presentation at the gallery walk at Alliance, Rupert Grey?s clinical dissection of the law and his dry British humour,

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both at the British Council and the Goethe Institut, Saiful Huq Omi?s disturbing but powerful images of political violence, Cristobal Trejo?s poetic rendering of an unseen world, Richard Atrero De Guzman?s honest response to difficult questions about representation and my own presentation on natural disasters and their social impact have all been well attended, despite the tension in the desolate Dhaka streets. The evening presentations close tonight with an insightful film by Indian film maker Joshy Joseph, presentations by Norman Leslie and a behind the scenes look by the photographers at the Drik Photo Department, Md. Main Uddin, Shehab Uddin and Amin, Chandan Robert Rebeiro, Imtiaz Mahabub Mumit and Shumon of Pathshala and Mexican exhibitor Cristobal Trejo. The shows go on as they always do at Drik.

In 1991, a woman with her vote had avenged Noor Hossain’s death.

woman-in-ballot-booth-low.jpg

A fortnight ago, the city was in flames, and a stubborn chief election commissioner is stoking the flames again. It is a fire he and his allies will be powerless to stop.
Shahidul Alam
Dhaka
Chobi Mela site
Blog by Australian curator Bec Dean
Short video on Chobi Mela IV


Chobi Mela III Ends

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Well, Chobi Mela III is coming to an end. One of the artists visiting Chobi Mela III was the celebrated Mexican photographer, Pedro Meyer. Pedro is also the editor of one of the most popular websites on photography <http://www.zonezero.com/> www.zonezero.com. It is apt that the editorial on zonezero today, the final day of Chobi Mela III, talks about his visit to the festival. Extracts from the editorial where Pedro talks both of his experience in Dhaka and his feelings about the festival follow. The full text is available at: http://www.zonezero.com/editorial/editorial.html
Bangladesh is according to economists, one of the poorest countries in the world. However, statistics tend to also obscure other aspects of life that seem to get lost in such descriptions as “among the poorest in the world”. I found that the people in Bangladesh are among the friendliest I have ever met any place, nothing to say that they must be the biggest enthusiast of having their picture taken that exists on the face of this earth. Probably the most efficient way of getting on with life is, how it is dealt with, in this very poor nation.
This event (Chobi Mela) here, is one of the largest of it’s kind in Asia. Bringing photographers and their work to the forefront during the two weeks of this festival. I have met photographers from all over the region, and I am sure that as this festival grows over the coming years, Bangladesh will increasingly become a major center for the development of photography. And what better place to have such an event than a city, where to such a large extent, photography is welcomed by the population.
Pedro Meyer left day before yesterday, Raghu Rai left yesterday, Ozcan Yurdalan left this morning, while Zhuang Wubin is still out there somewhere in Sylhet. The exhibitions by Morten Krogvold, Michel Szulc-Krzyzanowski, Srinivas Kuruganti (Alliance Fran?aise), John Lambrichts (Goethe Insitut), Raghu Rai (Drik Gallery One), Darren Soh, Student?s of Morten?s workshop, Zhuang Wubin and Chris Yap (Drik Rooftop Gallery) all end today. We will arrange separate showings for ?Bridging East and West?, by Saudi Aramco World, which was held up by customs, and the exhibition by students of Barbara Stauss at a later date. Those of you who cannot make it to the galleries should give your eyes a feast at <http://www.chobimela.org/> www.chobimela.org.
Shahidul Alam