Didi. The Street Fighter

MAHASWETA DEVI (JANUARY 14, 1926 -?JULY 28, 2016), WRITER AND SOCIAL ACTIVIST

Mahasweta Devi looking at photo exhibition catalogue "Nature's Fury" by Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Mahasweta Devi looking at photo exhibition catalogue “Nature’s Fury” by Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Protocol wasn?t Didi?s thing.?Shoitan! (Satan) she would say lovingly. And then grab you and plonk you on her lap. The fact that both Rahnuma and I were far too old, and I was certainly much too heavy, to be sitting on anyone?s lap wasn?t something she worried much about. She didn?t care much for people?s age, and what other people thought, was something that had never bothered her. If you love someone, they sit on your lap. ?You have a problem with that??
Mahasweta Devi (Didi ? elder sister ? to all of us) had been a giant of a figure in South Asian literature for as far back as I can remember.?Jhansir Rani?(The Queen of Jhansi, 1956), Hajar Churashir Maa (Mother of 1084, 1975) and?Aranyer Adhikar?(The Occupation of the Forest, 1977) her powerful novel about the Santal uprising were what we knew this celebrated writer and activist by. That she was a tease and loved to sing, and didn?t mind the odd practical joke, was a side to her that had remained private. What should have been apparent was the rebel in her; her uncompromising stand for the oppressed, and her clear position as to which side of the fence she belonged. Continue reading “Didi. The Street Fighter”

Photography in Bangladesh: a medium on the move

F?ted internationally, the country?s photographers have struggled for status at home. Could that be about to change?

Water reservoir is for the Komolapur Railway station. It?s the main station in Bangladesh. Dhaka.

From the series ?Railway Longings? (2011-2015) by Rasel Chowdhury

The eerie moonscape of Munem Wasif?s new photographic series, ?Land of Undefined Territory?, appears empty. On closer inspection, it reveals the scars of industrial activity, from vehicle tracks to stone crushing. The sense of menace and alienation is compounded by a three-channel video with a grating soundtrack.
These digital black-and-white shots were taken along an indefinite border between Bangladesh and India ? disputed land that is now home to unregulated mining but which also soaked up the blood of past upheavals, from the first, temporary partition of Bengal under the viceroy in 1905, to Partition in 1947 and the Liberation war of 1971. Ostensible documentary veers into questioning in Wasif?s deeply unsettling yet distanced probing of history, territory, ownership and exploitation. Continue reading “Photography in Bangladesh: a medium on the move”

As Drik As Possible

Climate_MigrantsThe 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. In god we trust
My partner Rahnuma Ahmed often got roped in when we were short-staffed, which was often. That was 25 years ago. Little experience and zero cash rarely got in the way: we started publishing from day one. Postcards, bookmarks (often using offcuts from the press) and even a company calendar were produced by friendly printers who printed on credit. Residents of Bangladesh?s capital, Dhaka, used to seeing flowers, pretty women, mosques and waterfalls, suddenly woke up to social messages in black and white on their wall calendars. It worked, and we were able to sell them door-to-door and pay back the printers ? until there was a flood and half our stock got inundated.
My Garden in the WildsTired of being pitied for our poverty, and do-gooder attempts to ?save? us, we had decided to become our own storytellers. And did we have stories to tell! Our agency Drik, grew, and we picked up many loyal friends and several powerful enemies along the way. Knowing we had to compete with better-resourced entities in the West, we set up the nation?s first email network using Fidonet. Banglarights, our human rights portal, annoyed the government; our telephone lines were switched off for 30 months. Mainstream galleries turned down exhibitions which were shamelessly political and often critical of the establishment, so we built our own. The government sent riot police to close down our shows on several occasions. Being stabbed in the street, arrested, and generally persecuted became some of the more troubling after-effects of our activism, but a nationwide campaign to reopen our gallery, and a court ruling in our favour, convinced us that the person on the street was on our side. That was all the ammunition we needed. Ballakot Rubble 8246
Along the way, we had set up a photo school, Pathshala, now recognized as being among the finest in the world. We also set up a photo festival, Chobi Mela. Again, a highlight of the Asian cultural calendar. Geed up by what we?d achieved in Bangladesh, we set our sights on challenging the global world order. Majority World was born, a platform for local photographers from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East with their own stories to tell.
Rescue OperationActivism didn?t pay the bills though and competing in the market place, often with professionals we ourselves had trained, required us to remain cutting edge. Clients cared less for ?good intentions? than they did for good delivery and value for money. It was comforting therefore when a prestigious international client, mentioned in the ?special instruction? section that she wanted the work to be ?As Drik as possible.? Call me Heena
As the organisation grew, we needed better management, stricter controls, increased efficiency and lower costs. This led to a culture shift which didn?t come easily to a group that had grown up like a family and had gotten used to working in a particular way. Our new CEO reminded us, that producing the perfect product was gratifying, but getting it to market on time and within budget, was just as important.
Meeting man's greedDrik today is a role model for the majority world, but a world that is changing. Twenty five years ago, it made sense to start from the ground up. Today we tap into fine professionals we ourselves have groomed, and take them to the international arena. Long term strategy, succession plans and a more global vision are the concerns of the day. It?s a lean, agile and creative organisation run by a younger team, ready for tomorrow. Rejoicing at Ershad's fall
Drik?s ultimate strength however, has been the people who have rallied around us. This includes the people who work here, but goes way beyond it. People, all across the globe, across all conventional barriers, who have believed in us, and stood by us, in the many difficult moments we?ve shared, through many dark nights and days. We owe our very survival to them. Some we have lost forever. Others have stayed away from the limelight, happy to bask in our success from afar. While they have never wanted or expected anything in return, we shall remain indebted to them. This publication is a tribute to them all.
Those we have loved and lost
See as slideshare
All credits and supplementary text available in Flickr page

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.
Screenshot 2014-09-04 13.14.44
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”

Launch of Shifting Gravity in Venice

Book Launch: Shifting Gravity A Discourse on Biennials

May 30, 2013, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal,
Crozzola Hall, Venice, Italy

Cover Image: Choi Jeong Hwa, Welcome! (2013). Installation at the Kimdaejung Convention Center, designed for World Biennial Forum N? 1

The Gwangju Biennale Foundation is pleased to invite you to the launch of the book?Shifting Gravity on the 30th of May at Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. This?book, published by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and Hatje Cantz, presents the issues,?discourses, and practices that have been evolving over the past 20 years with the?development of biennials around the globe.
The catalyst for this publication was the World Biennial Forum No.1, an international forum?held in Gwangju, South Korea in October 2012. The forum and publication were organized?through the collaboration of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, the Biennial Foundation,?and the ifa (Institut f?r Auslandsbeziehungen). During the five-day forum, directors and?representatives of biennials and a number of professionals discussed a wide range of?issues regarding biennials and their meaning as a global cultural phenomenon.
Shifting Gravity is composed of three main essays on the theme of biennials and thirty-nine?essays on different biennials held around the globe. Ute Meta Bauer and Hou Hanru, the?directors of the forum, took on the role of editors for the publication of the book.
Chobi Mela is one of the biennales featured.
For RSVP please contact:?Serene Pac
 
 
 
 

Profiling Africa's latest generation of photographers


DJ Cleo in 2013′ by Neo Ntsoma
Six-part series The New African Photography premieres on Monday 22 April 2013 on Al Jazeera English on Artscape. The programmes look at Africa through the eyes of its most acute observers: its photographers. Continue reading “Profiling Africa's latest generation of photographers”

Portfolio Reviews at Chobi Mela VII

Chobimela

Have your work critiqued by the world’s top professionals during Chobi Mela VII

Portfolio review will offer you an opportunity to meet with eminent photographers, curators and editors for useful advice and guidance on their works and careers.
Participants will have the opportunity meet up to?13 reviewers?over four days, with a 20 minutes individual session with each reviewer. Participants should bring their portfolio for review and we prefer small prints. Presentation of digital files on laptop/macbook or iPad/tab is possible but not encouraged.
Portfolio reviewers:?
Ruth Eichhorn/ Editor/ Geo Magazine
Richard Billingham/ Professor/ University of Gloucestershire
Patrick Witty/ Editor/ Time Magazine
Robert Pledge/ Editor/ Contact Press Image
Jody Haines/ Curator/ Brisbane Power House
Veneta Bullen/ Editor/ Guardian
Abir Abdullah/ Photographer/ EPA
Saiful Huq Omi/ Photographer/ Polaris
Sherri Dougherty/ Editor/ UN FAO
Hasib Zakaria?/ Lecturer/ Pathshala
Note ? The list of reviewers can change any moment without prior notice.
How to apply:

  • Send us?email at?workshops.pathshala@gmail.com
  • In your email,?please?indicate preferred session(s),?we will try to accommodate your?preferences. Please be aware that we cannot always guarantee your preferred session.
  • Please?submit your?bio and a link of your portfolio?in the same email. It is better to keep low resolution images on that link.
  • Participants will be selected for the Portfolio Review based on the portfolios submitted.
  • Selected participants will be announced online or via email.
  • Deadline for portfolio registration: January 23, 2013

Registration Fee: BDT 500?on arrival
Date: 27, 28, 29, 30 January 2013
Time: 13:30 hrs ? 16:00 hrs
Place: Pathshala ? South Asian Media Institute,?16, Sukrabad, Panthapath, Dhaka-1207, Bangladesh
Limited seats

Christopher Pinney to Attend Chobi Mela

Christopher PinneyLakshmi Photo by Christopher Pinney

Lakshmi Photo by Christopher Pinney

UdaipurSelf-portrait
Christopher Pinney
Christopher Pinney ? Discussion: Archiving project in India
Saturday, 26 January, 4:30PM, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy
Christopher Pinney ? Workshop: Transformations in the History of Photography
28-29 January, Speed 3
Christopher Pinney is an anthropologist and art historian. He is currently Professor of Anthropology and Visual Culture at University College London. His research interests cover the art and visual culture of South Asia, with a particular focus on the history of photography.
?Visual history?s modality is akin to psychoanalysis ? it tells us something about repressed histories that are important, but disavowed by standard textual history.? ??Christopher Pinney
Visit Christopher Pinney?s website:?http://christopherpinney.com/
Chobi Mela blog

NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati at Chobi Mela VII

Photo by Bhimi Gurung
Photo by Bhimi Gurung

NayanTara Gurung KakshapatiNayan Tara
NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati
NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati, photo.circle
Presentation: ?Retelling histories; creating an archive for family photo albums in Nepal? by Nepal Picture Library
Monday, 28 January, 11AM, EMK Center
In 2007, NayanTara co-founded photo.circle; a photography collective that has created a vibrant platform for emerging and professional photographers in Nepal. photo.circle offers Nepali photographers learning opportunities through workshops and creates space for photographers to exhibit, publish and market their work in Nepal, the region and internationally.
Visit NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati?s website:?http://www.nayantara.com.np/
Visit photo.circle?s website:?http://www.photocircle.com.np/
Chobi Mela blog