The pictures on this website are taken in exploratory walks, or WildWalks. We do not follow a set route but allow ourselves to be drawn by what we see. We photograph the objects, situations and people that catch our eye. We don?t get seduced into trying to find a coherent line. We just keep collecting images until our concentration lapses, usually around 2-3 hours. ?What we collect are details with a story. The way you look is important. You look either with a micro gaze or a macro gaze. You discover patterns by either completely zooming in or zooming out. In daily life we mostly use of mid-range gaze. ?The PAPA way of looking, in which you zoom in on details or zoom out to the total picture, is easy to learn.?
Mohammad Momin is the shopkeeper at our local mudir dokan in Dhanmondi
“What options do I have here? I struggle to make an honest living. My other options are to be a thief, a gangster, or a political party thug. Had I gone overseas (Momin did go once to Saudi Arabia, but was conned by the ‘agent’ and came back empty handed), I could have earned and helped to better my family.”
Please Retweet #Bangladesh #money
V2_ is pleased to host the book launch of ?The Making of PAPA? – Participating Artists Press Agency, by Lino Hellings. With live demonstration by the editors: Hans Aarsman, Lino Hellings and Nienke Terpsma.
A few years ago Lino Hellings, artist and sociologist, set out into the world with the idea of establishing an international artists? press agency with a loosely affiliated network of photographers. PAPA ? participating artists? press agency ? is the result. The News PAPA gathers is about how people cope in life. How do you do that?
The editors (Hans Aarsman, Lino Hellings, and Nienke Terpsma) and V2_ invite you for the book presentation of The Making of PAPA. The book combines a DIY manual, an introduction to the cities in which PAPA has operated so far, visual essays by a mix of photographers and a text on the bottom-up creation of PAPA, and its first adventures.
Hans Aarsman, Lino Hellings and Nienke Terpsma will give some live demonstrations on ?How do you do that??. At the launch you can buy the book at a reduced price of ? 25,-
The Making of PAPA
By Lino Hellings
Editors: Hans Aarsman, Nienke Terpsma, Lino Hellings.
Book design: Nienke Terpsma
Text editing (Dutch): Rob van Maanen
Translation: Gerard Forde
Lithography: Sebastiaan Hanekroot for Colour & Books
ISBN 978 94 6083 066 2
Post editions Rotterdam/the Netherlands Drik Dhaka/Bangladesh
Price ? 30.00 (at the launch ? 25.00)
Paperback / 364 p /17 x 24 cm Continue reading “The Making of PAPA”
The accident had changed things, and rather than see it as an impediment, I decided to make it a feature of my work. So on the 2nd Monday having been to the hospital for my regular physiotherapy, I revisited the scene. Walking down the narrow alleyways in between the line rooms in Sadek City Model Town (I have no idea who Sadek is), I met up with some women and two girls (around 8-10). They wanted pictures taken, and wanted to art direct the photos. So I was rapidly being given instructions, which changed as every new person joined what had become a rapidly growing crowd.
The act of taking pictures wasn?t so easy. With my right hand having low mobility, I had only taken my compact, and was taking pictures with my left hand. That?s when you realise that cameras are not designed for left handed people. Still, with a small camera you can improvise. Soon they decided they needed prints, so the two girls dragged me down to the local studio. It was a longish walk and I had wanted to stop several times to take pictures, but only managed a few times. The two girls were tough task masters. The guy in the studio was asleep, and a bit grumpy for being woken up. But he didn?t make prints himself. He would gather the images and send it off to a nearby lab, so we returned empty handed. I promised I?d bring prints back the following Monday.
I was then taken round and introduced to the other families, and eventually, they found a kitchen where they could pose as they wanted. The girl cooking was even younger than them, and the two art directors quickly took control. The shaft of light and the smoke were just lucky ingredients. Slowly the residents of Sadek City Model Town opened up to me. Some were still suspicious. Was I going to report to the government? Would this result in another eviction? What was I going to do with these pictures? But soon we were friends. A little baby that came to me, refused to go back to her mother. I was now a family member! The houses (8 foot by 8 foot rooms) cost 1100 Taka a month to rent. Per square foot, that was almost twice as expensive as our flat in Dhanmondi! And that was excluding gas. They spent 30 Taka a day on firewood, so it effectively cost 2000 Taka per month (about 20 Euros) a month for that one room. They did have electricity (sometimes), and there was a nearby tubewell where they could bathe and draw water from. The common loos did have long queues, but were considered adequate. This was a transit point they explained to me. The place where people stayed when they first came to the city. Once they found better work, they would move on. To brick houses, with piped gas. The tin roofs meant the rooms were like ovens in the summer and a freezer in winter.
There were two storied houses too. The upper floor had a thin concrete floor, to ensure the floor didn?t leak. I was surprised that a bamboo walled structure could have a concrete floor, but it seemed to work. Narrow wooden stairs led to the upper floor. It was a tinder box anyway and with these narrow exits, there would be no escaping if there was a fire.
They had arrived from all over the country, though many were from Barisal, a coastal region in the South. The men would ride rickshaw vans or work as day labourers upon arrival. ?All you needed was a basket and a spade. If you worked flat out from 8 in the morning to sunset, you could earn 200 Taka (about two Euros) a day. You wouldn?t get work every day, but enough days in a month to pay for the rent and food.?
On the way back, I came across the barber shop. One of many I?d seen that day. It didn?t look too interesting at first, until I saw the pigeons flying. They were flying, eating, shitting, without the slightest trace of concern, or fear. This was obviously their home, and the clients who came in to barber were the intruders. The barber had gone off leaving the client in the chair, and the pigeons were just getting on with their lives. The barber?s younger brother was there and explained that earlier there were more birds, including parrots. But it had become too much of a hassle, so now the barber only kept pigeons.
I had started later than I had hoped, and being a bright sunny day, I was in the glaring sun much of the time. I had to be careful with my framing in this very hard light. So I did most of my work indoors, or in the narrow corridors where the was little direct sunlight. Ideally I would have waited for the lovely afternoon light that accompanies winter, but my pains were beginning to take toll.
As I headed back I went through Rayerbazaar, and the people I had photographed last week all flocked. I managed to avoid tea, but was given a cup of fresh cow?s milk. One doesn?t usually get fresh milk these days, so this was a treat. The conversation veered to the local mafia and what some of the locals were getting up to. I left promising to bring back some prints next Monday. I realized, I would need to make a LOT of prints for that day. I then came up with the sugar cane juice man from last week and he squeezed two special glasses for me. As I was buying some water chestnuts, a guy passing by, told me of the Kali (Hindu Goddess) puja that was taking place nearby. I followed the directions to a narrow alleyway, where the Goddess was in all her splendour in a raised platform at the end. The singing, dancing and firecrackers just added to the atmosphere.
Wasn?t sure how it would work out.? But it was an interesting suggestion from Lino. ?Just do what interests you. Take what grabs your eye? she had said.
The embankment in Rayerbazaar was built to protect the big city from the floods.? Communities have grown around it. Mostly? migrant workers in search of work. Many who have lost their homes to the river.
Majeda, our home help. Lives there too. Her husband suggested we meet at the mosque. We agreed to meet on Monday the 1st November, before sunrise. ?You?ve just ruined your prospects? my partner Rahnuma, reminded me. ?There?ll be a whole crowd, and you won?t be able to work. ?
Well it was done. I had just come back from the Long March and hadn?t really slept the last two nights. Cleaning the lenses. Making sure I had enough memory cards. Recharging batteries. Some money for the day. I was set. Went to bed early. The alarm woke me up. But it was pitch dark, and turning it off I dosed off again, waking up in panic a few minutes later. It didn?t matter. It was a cloudy day and the early morning sun I had wanted to catch was nowhere to be seen.
All geared up, I rode my bicycle in search of the mosque, stopping on the way to take the odd photograph. One picture of the sunlight gleaning on a grilled closed gate, was the only sunlit image I had that day.
The market place was a delight. People setting up shop, fishmongers arranging their fish in neat shapes. Narrow lanes lit by streaks of light leaking through the tarpaulin slits on the roof were newly swept and glistening. I walked up the stairs to the rooftop, which looked more like an unfinished construction site than a bazaar rooftop.? Only later did I learn that it had been a three storied building which was being torn down, to make room for a multistoried modern marketplace. Most of the shops had moved to nearby buildings, Only the ?kacha bazaar? where perishables were sold, was still operating on the ground floor. There were still a few dress and shoe shops on the edges, waiting to move.
The barren cityscape was worlds away from the bustle below. Three boys slept, huddled together, oblivious to the day having started. Crows perched on the rod ends of the concrete slabs. Gaping holes in the roof showed through the bazaar and the streets underneath. Looking up, many saw me and insisted they be photographed. Others busy with work were oblivious to my presence.
The mandir next to the mosque had small banyan trees clinging to the old decaying bricks. Bulbulis had made their homes in the gaps in the bricks. I mused on what I was doing . On the fact that there was no pressure at all on me ?doing? anything. I was doing what I loved to do. Taking pictures of whatever pleased me. It was the loveliest of combinations. A commissioned personal project. Rare in these days of diminishing opportunities. I decided I didn?t need all this gear, and went back to leave the big DSLRs and long lenses behind. I was going to spend the rest of the day with my compact. Not fully sure of my decision, I took one DSLR body with a wide lens with me. Just in case.
By the time I returned, I was a known face. A shopkeeper brought out his pet mouse and insisted it be photographed. Mice are generally hated by shopkeepers and I was struck by how lovingly he stroked the little animal, which was least interested in the photographer!
I took some interviews of shopkeepers getting their take on why the price of rice had escalated. Then went on to the river nearby. There was no rush, and I stopped on the way at the butchers and the blacksmiths. He complained that many had taken photographs but he?d never been given a print. Giving him a card and promising to return next Monday, I rode ahead. Past the sewage pipes, a funeral procession, an entire rooftop being relocated?
A boat full of pots had berthed and I sat fascinated by the careful precision with which the fragile contents were offloaded, packed and taken pile high through the busy traffic. Then, as I was heading back, a deafening thump. A motorbike running at speed had rammed into me. Dazed on the tarmac, I realized I was badly hurt. The bleeding from the ear didn?t bode well. People came rushing. I had enough sense to ensure no one tried to ?help? me in an overenthusiastic manner. ?jate matal tale thik? (might be drunk, but his rhythm?s OK) I thought. Except for a kid who poked his oily finger on my lens, neither of my cameras had been damaged. I?d instinctively shielded them during my fall!
Putting my mangled bike and my mangled body on a rickshaw. With the help of a passerby, who held on to the bike and me as we weaved our way through the bazaar traffic, I made my way home.
My sister and my brother-in-law, both doctors, came to see me. They wanted me to go to the hospital. I wanted guests to leave so I could get on with my work. Pictures needed to be uploaded. Propping myself on the bed, so the laptop could be perched in a manner that would allow me to type with my good left hand, and my right shoulder, arm and leg be propped so it hurt less, I finally got on to the Net and sent a cryptic message to Lino. Later, when the pain had become more manageable, I sent two images to Lino, asking her to upload for me.
———— Look out for the regular updates in PAPA