INTERNATIONAL CRAFT FILM CONTEST FOR STUDENTS

The Entries should be 8 to 10 min of documented craft on the following topics only

  • Crafts-? A fight for survival.
  • Crafts- The magic of creation.
  • Crafts-? A signpost of culture.
  • The entries can be in English or in any other language.? All ?entries must be subtitled in English.
  • The Entry forms and other details can be downloaded from WCC website.
  • There is no entry fee.

Continue reading “INTERNATIONAL CRAFT FILM CONTEST FOR STUDENTS”

Bangladesh?s new admirer

Daily Sun

Monday the 7th February 2012

Emily Dimozantos. SUN photo

No matter how poorly the countrymen mark Bangladesh?s sports, it has an admirer in Emily Dimozantos, an Australian freelance sports photographer who is in Dhaka now thanks to an exchange programme.
Although the Edith Cowan University, Perth student feels that poor infrastructure hardly helps the athletes to excel in the international level, she has fallen in love with the hosts? sports, athletics being her most favourite one.
The smiling Aussie was speaking to this correspondent at the Bangabandhu National Stadium after the match between Dhaka Abahani and Rahmtaganj. She was also sharing her experience with the athletes who are undergoing a training programme for the upcoming Saff Games.
?My university and the Pathshala, a photography school, have an exchange programme. I have immense passion for sports photography and is enjoying my stay in Bangladesh. One of my pictures of hurdler Sumita Rani has been selected as a display banner of an exhibition hosted by the Drik Gallery,? said Emily.
Being a woman, it?s natural she keenly observes women?s participation in the sports of Bangladesh.
?Yes, I have seen the women?s football tournament. I understood that it has just started. However, I have spent a lot of time with the women athletes and found that they are very talented. At the same time I found that the infrastructure is very poor and there is lack of sufficient funds. In a country like Australia the training facilities are far far better,? said the Australian.
Emily is yet to go Mirpur, the hub of cricket. ?I don?t have much passion for cricket. However, I will go there,? she said.
The dense population of Bangladesh has caught the eyes of the photographer. ?People here always seem busy and the roads are always full of traffic. I don?t have many words to describe it,? said Emily.
Emily was amazed to see the Guinness World Records certificate of Abdul Halim who also entered the big bowl after the match.
?It is awesome and amazing. I am happy to see the venue and meet Halim. It is amazing to see the man who carried the ball for 15.2 kilometres and completed 38 laps. It?s a big honour for Bangladesh,? the Australian observed.

Meanwhile, In Bangladesh…

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Sayed Asif Mahmud channels Moriyama for an expressive view of his city and country

By Dan Abbe on October 20, 2011Expand

From “My City of Unheard Prayers”
The work of?Sayed Asif Mahmud is my first exposure to the photography culture of Bangladesh, but it’s certainly given me the desire to explore further. Although these technically rough photos would probably make your high school photography teacher wince, they?re not the result of carelessness. In fact, they can be placed within a larger tradition of messy black-and-white snapshot photographers like Daido Moriyama and Antoine D’Agata. But let’s leave aside these figures for the moment, and look at Asif Mahmud’s work on its own.

From “My City of Unheard Prayers”

There are a few different series on Asif Mahmud’s site, but I’m particularly interested in “My City Of Unheard Prayers,” a series of photographs taken at night which seems to boil his work down into its most basic elements. He’s using light and shadow (also the title of?a Moriyama book) in a very primal way. The light in the frame usually doesn’t show us any “thing,” but rather a texture, or an opening, or a reflection. We could say that the photograph showing a man’s face the most clear, in that there is a proper subject to look at. But even in this photo, it’s difficult to focus on his face, instead of the haze which shrouds it. What can the shot of cars on wet cement tell us? It looks like they’re only there to illuminate the scar-like texture of the road, which holds the image together.

From “My City of Unheard Prayers”

Some part of me knows that these photographs don’t represent what Dhaka is “actually like.” ?My City Of Unheard Prayers? presents a highly stylized vision, which is what allows me to imagine that a road could have a scar in the first place. It is possible to say that this gritty, high-contrast black-and-white style has already been done to pieces by Moriyama and others–Asif Mahmud has a?dog photo to match?Moriyama’s most famous shot. This would miss the point, though. The style itself is accessible to anyone with a camera and film. (This does actually exclude a great number of people.) If we think of the style as a kind of language, spoken by Moriyama, D’Agata and others, Asif Mahmud has developed his own vocabulary–or, you know, “found his voice,” if you prefer. It makes the rest of his work, which includes a series about thetobacco trade in Bangladesh, all the more compelling.
[via?Mrs. Deane]

From “My City of Unheard Prayers”

Dan Abbe is a writer and photographer working in Tokyo. He writes a blog about Japanese photography,?Street Level Japan. On Twitter he’s?@d_abbe. Syed Asif Mahmud is a Pathshala alumni

Rasel Chowdhury wins Ian Parry Scholarship 2011

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Pathshala student Rasel Chowdhury wins prestigious Ian Parry Scholarship 2011, while Jashim Salam is commended.

Photo: ??Rasel Chowdhury

Patron: Don McCullin Director: Aidan Sullivan
Highly Commended Alejandro Kirchuk / Commended Jashim Salam & Valentina
Quintano / Hon Mention Daria Tuminas
We would like to congratulate Rasel Chowdhury on winning the Ian Parry Scholarship 2011.
The level of entries we have received again this year was higher and more focused than ever
before. Our judging is done as a process of elimination, so portfolios are removed from each
round depending on their strength as potential winner. The final round of portfolios from
Institutions like Pathshala, Danish School of Journalism, LCC, Westminster, Ohio, Falmouth
and Leiden University, showed such flair and extraordinary vision that the judges found it
difficult to select just 3 finalists.
The judges felt that the over all winner had to be Rasel Chowdhury from Bangladesh for this
series called Desperate Urbanization. His landscape images are concerned with the
pollution of the Burigonga River, Dhaka. There are 700 brickfields and dockyards functioning
on its riverbanks and tannery chemicals, human waste and industrial chemicals flow directly
into the river. This constant source of pollution has created a breeding ground for diseases
such as Malaria, Filariasis and Dengu Hemoragi fever causing serious health problems
along the banks of the river. Low-income inhabitants are the worse affected, with little
access to safe drinking water and proper sanitation. ?I have an intrinsic relationship with this
city and river as I spent most of my life in and around them? says Rasel of his series.
We would like to thank our judges for their clear decision-making and expertise: Don
McCullin Patron / Tom Stoddart Trustee / Kate Edwards Guardian Weekend / Alixandra
Fazzina Noor / Jon Jones & Stephen Reid Sunday Times magazine / Charles Parry Ian?s
brother.
?Rasel?s conceptual approach and the desaturation of his images works well to produce a
very different view of Dhaka, which is intriguing and interesting. What really comes across is
his knowledge of the area and his subject. There is a consistent distance in the images and
yet every now and again you see figures interacting with the landscape, it moves from
pollution to shipbuilding ? Kate Edwards, Guardian Weekend Photography Editor
Save The Children are again sponsoring the award by offering one of the finalists an all
expenses paid assignment under the management of Rachel Palmer, Film and Photography
Manager and in addition to this, the World Press Photo automatically accepts the winner
onto its final list of nominees for the Joop Swart Masterclass in Amsterdam. This is a
significant prize for any photographer and continued with the support of Canon Europe &
Sunday Times magazine, which publishes all the finalist?s work; the scholarship provides an
excellent launch into a professional career in photography.
Once again our extremely well attended exhibition will be held at the Getty Images Gallery /
46 East Castle Street, London, W1W 8DX telephone: +44 (0) 207 291 5380 from the 17th
August for two weeks.
For further information, interviews or images please contact Rebecca McClelland Deputy
Director Ian Parry Scholarship at [email protected] and visit www.ianparry.org

Photo by Jashim Salam/Pathshala

Drik: Photo power

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By Satish Sharma

The shutting-down of two photographic exhibitions in Dhaka?s Drik Gallery in just the last few months proves that Bangladesh?s censors, unlike lightning, can strike at the same place more than once ? especially where Drik?s photographic practices are concerned. But then, Drik seems to have become a lightning rod inviting censure, and this will not be the last time either. Not if I know Shahidul Alam and his commitment to pushing photography in what he calls ?the majority world?. If actually being knifed has not stopped him, nothing will.
The British Council in Dhaka had once tried to shut down a Drik exhibition by Roshini Kampadoo because it ?hurt the image of Britain?. And in November last year it was the turn of the Chinese embassy in Dhaka that wanted an exhibition on Tibet, also in Drik, to be closed. When a personal visit by the Chinese Cultural Counsellor and his cultural attach? bearing gifts (calendar, a silk tie and tea) didn?t work, they invoked worsening diplomatic relations and brought to bear the weight of the Bangladeshi government, Special Branch police and even parliamentarians. But Alam didn?t buckle, instead inaugurating the exhibition in the street after the gallery was locked up by the police. He shut it down the next day, however, as a protest against the interference.
Alam?s new exhibition and installation, ?Crossfire?, should have been safer from threats of closure. It was not photojournalistic documentary or even an Americanised ?documentary style?. It showed no dead or disappeared people. Much more conceptual, it allegorically invoked the disappeared through subtler and quieter means. But because it dealt with ?crossfire? deaths by specially raised Rapid Action Battalions (in India, one would call these ?encounter deaths?), it drew fire ? and closure, and protests against the closure.

The ever defiant Mahashweta Devi, confronts Shah Aalm, the officer in charge of Dhanmondi Thaka, outside the Drik entrance. ? Taslima Akhter

Armed police barricaded the gates of Drik Gallery to prevent the exhibition Crossfire, organisers opened the exhibition on the streets outside of the Drik Gallery.?March 22, 2010. ??Saikat Majumder/DrikNews/Majority World

There is something about photography that invites censorship. The power of the photographic image simply has to be controlled, it seems ? one way or another. If ideas of aesthetics, beauty and spiritual values don?t work, governments pass and use anti-terror laws. And internationally applicable anti-terror laws, with the attendant globalised cultural control, are now beginning to have a universal presence, reach and influence.
Shahidul Alam steals a kiss from Mahasweta Devi after the roadside opening of Alam's Crossfire exhibit. CNN reporter Ric Wasserman and New Age Editor Nurul Kabir, look on. ???Saikat Majumder/DrikNews/Majority World

Shahidul Alam speaks at roadside opening of "Crossfire" exhibition outside Drik Gallery. Guest speakers Mahasweta Devi (centre) and Nurul Kabir (right) were also present. ??Taslima Akhter

The symbolic opening of "Crossfire" was through Mahasweta Devi unlocking handcuffs on Shahidul Alam's hands, to cries of "To the end of crossfire" from the crowds. ??Saikat Majumder/DrikNews/Majority World

Any critical photography is subtly suppressed by evoking ideas of photography as a ?fine art?, and by inducing self-censorship before it is more pointedly and politically policed through action by the state?s security services. Self-censorship, I believe, was at the heart of the lack of any decent coverage, by Indian photographers, of the Emergency and the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
The desire to control the photographic message is, however, universal. And that desire is as old as the medium itself. From colonial control of the photography during the 19th century to anti-terror laws in the era of the global ?war on terror? to control the photographic images of the 21st century, little seems to have changed. The power of photography to control and manipulate perception of the world?s raw realities is too important to be left unchallenged. It is noteworthy that these do not even have to be powers from one?s own country. Perception management is a global political strategy with a global reach; it is globally practiced.
Alam managed to evade police and sneaked inside Drik Gallery to join a video conference with Jean Francois Julliard, secretary general of Reporters sans fronti?res (RSF) in Paris. ??Saikat Majumder/DrikNews/Majority World

Enraged students from Charukola, the Fine Arts Institute in Dhaka University formed a human chain to protest to forced closure of Drik gallery. March 23, 2010. ??Amdadul Huq/DrikNews/Majority World

Human chain by students of Charukala. March 23, 2010. ??Amdadul Huq/DrikNews/Majority World

"Closing down Drik Gallery is the same as banning painting" says poster at human chain outside Charukala. March 23, 2010. ??Amdadul Huq/DrikNews/Majority World

In February, Uzbekistan convicted a photographer for ?slandering the Nation?. Umida Akhmeddova had been documenting the daily struggles of ordinary people, and was accused of ?portraying the people as backward and poor?. Her ?photo album [did] not conform to aesthetic demands? and ?would damage Uzbekistan?s spiritual values?, said the expert panel appointed to look at her work.
The Abu Ghraib photos were not shot by professional photojournalists, yet special laws were passed by the US Congress to prevent their dissemination. Most of the pictures and video footage still remain out of reach ? legally secured, not only by the special acts of the US Congress, but also through the raising of issues such as the right to privacy of the ?victims? and their oppressors, and by wives of the soldier-photographers who raised issues of personal copyright to prevent these photographs from being seen more widely.
Anti-terrorism laws are also being used to prevent photography in Britain?s streets. Photographing the most well-known monuments has become suspect, with even professional press photographers being harassed by local police. Street photography, we have to remember, has a long and proud tradition, and the streets have a central space in the practice of urban photography. Even photography as a safely sanitised art form, a documentary style, is not a safe practice. But then, safety is not what should drive photography. It needs to recover and secure its critical spaces ? its critical power.
Satish Sharma is a photographer, critic and occasional curator. He was a former tutor at Pathshala and currently lives in Kathmandu.
The article was published in Himal Southasian
Related links:
Sri Lanka Guardian
Earlier post on Crossfire

Bangladesh, standing on the edge

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Preface?by Christian Caujolle

Expressions, hands, faces, presence and pain, tenderness and anxiety, light and encounters, questions and determination as well as a thousand other things run through Munem Wasif‘s photographs.

The way Wasif takes his photographs can be summed up into two ways: people and the frame. He definitely belongs to a humanist tradition, contemporary in content for the attention he gives to people and to the way they live, what they have to endure and all they bear in today’s pitiless world, disrupted, torn by drastic climatic changes and economic speculation. A world where speed is queen and profit king inconsiderately leaving on the wayside the rejected that it spawns. It is salutary that an eye such as Wasif’s reminds us that these things exist, that there are men, women, children, “little people” like us who have to withstand much more than we do.






In photography, the approach and the representation of suffering and exclusion are often entangled in a jumble of good intentions, generous in intention, they call for tearful compassion, with clich?d images that end up making us weary, forever repeating themselves, they end up by?anaesthetising?our capacity to react. Wasif produces the opposite effect. He makes us question and makes us concerned.

This is done with so little and at the same time goes to the essential. We can not doubt his commitment to those he photographs, the excluded, the victims, panic-stricken by a world ruled by the race for profit and blinded by immediate return based on solely commercial value. He puts this world into form, radical in its description, he imposes it and gives it to us to see clearly.

This is where the frame comes in. A way of focusing in on the world, to sum it up in a series of specific points of view, classic in their composition, forcing us to see and to perceive their intention.
Munem Wasif‘s frames are clean-cut, precise, almost cold. Without flourish. He asks us to look, to perceive, to take a stand. Therefore to act.
—————————
Wasif’s work will be shown at Visa Pour la Image at Perpignan. He won the?City of Perpignan Young Reporter?s Award for 2008. He graduated from Pathshala, The South Asian Institute of Photography, and works at DrikNews. His work is represented by Agence VU and Majority World.

Of Roses and Sexual Harassment

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]

by rahnuma ahmed

`You should not have written about such sensitive issues in such indecorous language,’ faculty members at Jahangirnagar University (JU) told me and my ex-colleague, Manosh Chowdhury. It was 1997, four years before I left JU to become a writer.
We had written about the Provost of a Women’s Hall of Residence. He would target first year women Anthropology students. They handed in a memorandum to the University authorities detailing his abuse of power: he was rude to their family members when they dropped in for visits, he ridiculed what they were taught, and the teachers who taught them (this included us). What was not mentioned in the memorandum however, was that he would often barge into their dormitories. Sometimes, also into the wash rooms. The Provost’s misconduct later made it to the newspapers but what got left out was that he had dubbed three women students ‘lesbians,’ and another, ‘a cigarette smoker.’ We had included these in our article to map out the institutionalised nature of the Provost’s power, to draw attention to the systemic character of sexual harassment on campuses. We had written, The issue is not whether these women are `lesbians’. Women have been scorned on other occassions because they have ‘boyfriends’. Women returning to the halls in the evening are taunted, they are told they were `having fun in the bushes.’ Institutional sexual harassment is not about hard facts alone, it takes place through language, through words that ridicule and scorn. (`Oshustho Pradhokkho na ki Pratishthanik Khomota,’ Bhorer Kagoj, 9 July 1997).
We received no printed response, but hate mail instead. And a genteel comment on our `indecorous’ use of language. Our next piece was entitled, ‘What then does one call Sexual Harassment — A Rose?’ (Bhorer Kagoj, 24 August 1997).
The next year witnessed a student movement on Jahangirnagar campus, at forty plus days, the longest anti-rape campaign in South Asia. The University authorities gave in to student pressure, a Fact Finding Committee was formed. As events unfolded it became clear that a group of male students had been involved in successive incidents of rape which had taken place over several months, and that the University authorities had been reluctant to take action because of their political connections to the regime then in power, the Awami League. The movement was strong and unrelenting and gained tremendous popular support. Later, the university authorities meted out token punishment to those very students whom they had earlier protected, rather reluctantly.

A sit-in protest against rape in campus, brought out by the students union, in Jahangir Nagar University, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. August 24, 1998. ? Abir Abdullah/Drik/Majority World
One of the demands of the 1998 movement had been the formation of a Policy against Sexual Harassment. Dilara Chowdhury, Mirza Taslima Sultana, Sharmind Neelormi and I had worked long hours for weeks on end, to produce a working draft. I remember, our draft had said, sexual harassment is any unwelcome physical contact and advance, declaration of love accompanied by threat and intimidation if not reciprocated, sexually coloured remarks, display of pornography, any other unwelcome physical, verbal or non-verbal conduct of a sexual nature…

Policy Against Sexual Harassment: A Torturous Journey

Ten years later.
It’s Friday night, well after ten, Anu Muhammod has just returned from Munshiganj, and I am fortunate to get hold of him. `So Anu, I hear that the Policy has not yet been ratified by the University Syndicate?’ I ask the professor of economics at Jahangirnagar University, a well-known public intellectual and activist, and a good friend of many years. With a twinkle in his eyes and a deprecating smile, Anu launches into the story.
Naseem Akhter Hossain and I forwarded the Draft Policy to the university administration in 1999. Naseem, as you well know was the Provost of a women?s hall, and one of the most dedicated members of the Fact Finding Committee. The university administration was absolutely terrified of the anti-rape movement. For them it was finally over, some of the students had been punished, they wanted to forget the matter. The next year, 17 of us forwarded it to JU administration, with a signed letter. And in those days, the 8th of March Committee was alive, teachers and students would sit and discuss women’s issues and male power, we would hold a rally on International Women’s Day, left groups, cultural groups would join in. It was an annual ritual, each year we would send the draft to the University administration requesting that they take steps to ratify it, to enforce it, each year they would tell us that it had been misplaced. This went on for several years.
Two years later the BNP led alliance came to power, and the elected Vice-Chancellor was removed from his position. Jahangirnagar University Teachers Association (JUTA) protested against the government action. Anyway, to cut a long story short, JUTA initiated a movement in protest against the government’s high-handedness, a common platform was formed, I was present at one of the Teachers Association meetings and took the opportunity to place the Draft policy. Everyone was charged, and the Draft was approved, so you now had JUTA forwarding it to the University administration for ratification. I inquired again the next year but by then we were back to the old ritual, it had been misplaced. But soon, there was another incident of sexual harassment, a BBA teacher, the accusations were proven to be true, he lost his job. We raised the Policy issue again, each movement helped to revive it. I spoke to Professor Mustahidur Rahman, who was then the Vice-Chancellor.
`Yes Anu, what did he say?’ I am very curious about the reasons forwarded on behalf of institutions, by people in positions of power, the language in which they resist measures aimed at ensuring justice. ‘What did Mustahid bhai say?’
Anu’s smile deepened. ‘He said, yes, of course, we must look into it. But we have so much on our hands. I spoke to other teachers as well, why do we need a special Policy, they said. The country has criminal laws, University rules stipulate that teachers must not violate moral norms, we also have a Proctorial policy. So why do we need a separate Policy against Sexual Harassment? In 2007, another movement began, against a teacher in Bangla department. He also lost his job later, and talk of the Policy was revived again. Actually, the women students went on a fast unto death programme, this was very serious, later Sultana Kamal, Rokeya Kabir, Khushi Kabeer, these women’s movement leaders came and pleaded with the students to break their fast. They did, but on the condition that I would personally take up the matter with the University administration. They said, we trust you, we don’t trust the administration.
After this, the University set up a Committee to review the Policy. I was on that Committee, so was Sultana Kamal. Legal points were added, the draft was brushed up, student organisations were invited to comment on it, also, the Teachers Association. But the teachers are not happy, many think that false allegations will be made, that it will be used by those who have influence, on grounds of personal enmity. I tell them that the Policy has clauses to prevent this from happening, any one who brings false allegations will be severely punished, no law of the land, against murder, kidnapping, theft, whatever has such built-in-clauses. Surely, that will be a deterrent? But it falls on deaf ears. The draft was sent to the Syndicate, it was not ratified. The members felt that it required more consideration.
And now, the latest incident, the one involving a teacher of the Dramatics department. I believe the Fact Finding Committee has submitted its report, there is yet again talk of instituting the Policy, but this time it’s serious. There is new VC now, but this time I think they can no longer avoid it. There is strong support for the Policy.
This is how things stand at present. I think the Policy, once ratified, will create history. It will set a strong precedent for similar policies at other places of work. In garments factories, I often say, for women, it’s not only a question of wages but being able to work in a safe and secure place, free of harassment and sexual advances.
`And what about other public universities,’ I ask, knowing fully well the answer. No, says Anu, there is no talk of a Policy, let alone a finalised Draft.
Jahangirnagar has a strong tradition of protest and resistance, our conversation ends on this note. I forget who said it. Was it Anu? Or, was it me? Maybe, both of us?

Voices of Female Students

Four women students of Drama and Dramatics department have accused the departmental chairperson, M Sanowar Hossain (Ahmed Sani), of harassing them.
One of them confided to her classmates, Sir has asked me to go and see him. Well, why don’t you? I am afraid. Why? Another woman said, he has asked me to go and see him too. You too? I don’t want to. Why not?
They talked and discovered that they were not alone in their experiences of sexual harassment, that it was shared. One of them said, as is the practice in the department, I had bent to touch his feet to seek his blessings, as I rose up he pulled me and kissed me on my forehead. Another woman student, similarly abused but silent until the four junior women stepped forward, spoke of how he had grabbed her and kissed her cheek. Another woman said, I was so scared when he said I would have to go to his office, but I was angry too, I knew what was going to happen, I told a friend, I’ll carry a brick in my bag. I want to mark him, so that people kow.
But the women also spoke of how they themselves felt marked. When I went back to the hostel and told the girls they wanted to know, what did he do to you? where did he touch you? how long did he hold you? I wept inside, she said. Why didn’t anyone say, where’s that bastard? Let’s go and get him. Such responses make it so difficult to come out. Why should I take on this social pressure?
The girls also said, if it had just happened to me, if I hadn’t discovered that there were other victims, I would never have spoken out. I don’t think anyone would have believed me.

Male Academia and Its Insecurities

Why do University authorities resist the adoption of a policy that will help institute measures to redress wrongs? That will afford women protection against unwanted sexual advances, thereby creating an environment that is in synchrony with what it claims to be, an institution of greater learning and advancement.
I think what lies hidden beneath academic hyperbole is, although the university, as other public and private institutions, appears to be asexual, in reality, it is deeply embedded with sexual categories and preferences. Men are superior, both intellectually and morally, this is assumed to be the incontrovertible truth. For women, to be unmasking and challenging male practices, aided by a Complaint Cell, members of which will listen to their grievances, extend support, advocate sanctions if allegations are proven to be true, is a threat that terrifies the masculine academic regime of power and privileges.
But sexual harassment is not a bunch of roses. It is serious, it needs to be taken seriously.
———————————-
An open letter to the Chancellor of Jahangirnagar University
First published in New Age on 7th July 2008

Studying Life

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10th year of Pathshala
Video on Pathshala by Brian Palmer. Commissioned by Pullitzer Foundation:
saikot.jpg Boli. Goat being sacrificed at Hindu religious ceremony. ? Saikat Mojumder.

Rashid Talukder had been unwell and had excused himself. The other board members Afzal Chowdhury, Mahfuz Anam, Nawazesh Ahmed and I had pored over the crude portfolios. Much of the work was raw, but there was freshness and a vibrancy that touched us all. This new school would take risks. Ideas would be given a chance.
The students have emulated that principal characteristic of Pathshala. Reaching for the impossible has become the norm. Pushing the school and themselves to the limit has been their mode of practice. Dreaming, a way of life.
On the day of the first workshop, with World Press Photo in 1998, a hastily flung white cloth had covered up the bricks being used for the unfinished construction of the computer lab. On its tenth year, the school boasts achievements by students that is the envy of schools worldwide. The early partnerships, with World Press Photo Foundation, The British Council, Panos Institute, The Thomson Foundation and Free Voice (formerly CAF) have all played an important role, but the new liaisons, with the University of Liberal Arts in Bangladesh, and the upcoming regional masters programme between universities in Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Nepal, Norway and Pakistan are paving the way for a school that has matured beyond its years.
The academic exchanges with Oslo University College in Norway and Edith Cowan University in Australia provide Pathshala students an opportunity to share experiences with students of very different backgrounds. The long-term partnerships with Sunderland University, Bolton University and the Danish School of Journalism, offer educational opportunities for students with other world class institutions. The internship opportunities at Drik, Chobi Mela and Drik News offer on-the-job training that is invaluable in professional life. The regular participation in international festivals and workshops provide a world-view essential to becoming established in the global marketplace. And then there is the acid test. Emerging students are in demand, and ever since Pathshala started, all students who have graduated are gainfully employed. Some are already at the very top of their profession.
But the goal of Pathshala is far more than teaching photography. It is about using the language of images to bring about social change. It is about nurturing minds and encouraging critical thinking. It is about responsible citizenship. In a land where textual literacy is low, it is about reaching out where words have failed. In a society where sleek advertising images construct our sense of values, studying at Pathshala is about challenging cultures of dominance.
Curating an exhibition of so diverse a group is always difficult. One wants to be inclusive but selective. Demonstrate trends, but value differences. Nurture new talent, but recognise excellence. Choose favorites but not be partisan. The greater importance given to some artists has as much to do with what needs to be said now as it has to do with the calibre of their work. Pathshala cannot be an academic island untouched by local realities. While recognising the merit of those producing quality work, space has also to be given to voices that need to be heard now. These are images of ‘Now’ being articulated.
Shahidul Alam
A True Pathshala
The word Pathshala, a traditional Sanskrit word for a seat of learning, was generally associated with the shade of mango trees in open fields. There were no walls, no classrooms, no formal structures, but children gathered to listen to wise folk. It was wisdom being shared.
Having decided that the language of images was the tool to use to challenge western hegemony and to address social inequality within the country, Drik had begun to put in place the building blocks to make it happen. The agency was serving people already in the trade, but opportunities for learning had to be created. There wasn?t a single credible organization for higher education in photography in the region. One had to be built. Taking advantage of a World Press Photo seminar on 18th December 1998, the school was setup. A single classroom was all that was available. The visiting tutors Chris Boot (formerly with Magnum, then with Phaidon) and Reza Deghati (National Geographic) conducted the workshops. I continued as a lone tutor. Kirsten Claire an English photographer whom a friend had recommended, came over soon afterwards and stayed for a year. We paid her a local salary, the best we could afford. The two of us formed the faculty.
A stream of tutors, all friends willing to be arm twisted, came at regular intervals. For some we provided air fare and modest accommodation. Some came at their own cost. Some slept on our floor. Some, like Ian Berry, who had come over on an assignment, were simply roped in. The students, most new to the craft, didn?t know they were rubbing shoulders with the greatest names in photography. And it was an impressive list of names. Abbas, David Wells, Daniel Meadows, John Vink, Ian Berry, Ingrid Pollard, Martin Parr, Morten Krogvold, Pablo Bartholomew, Pedro Meyer, Raghu Rai, Reza Deghati, Robert Pledge, Steven Mayes, Tim Hetherington, Trent Parke and many others had spent quality time with Bangladeshi photographers. Some had come even before Pathshala started. Some, like Robert Pledge, Reza Deghati, Abbas, David Wells, Morten Krogvold and Raghu Rai, were repeat visitors. Few demanded payment; none flaunted their superstar stautus, one even made an anonymous donation. They all wanted to be part of a very exciting journey. One or two wanted to be on the faculty to embellish their CVs, but they all gave generously, and this organization has been built on their labour of love.
Lazy at first and unaware of how special the environment was, the students soon became infected by the passion of their marvelous tutors. They studied photography, economics, statistics, environmental studies, visual anthropology. They were in a true Pathshala, studying life. And it showed. Despite the limited resources of the school, we maintained one goal we had set for ourselves at the outset. Every emerging student was gainfully employed. The trend has continued since 1998. They got selected for the prestigious Joop Schwart Masterclass. They won awards like the Mother Jones, World Press, the National Geographic All Roads and a host of other prestigious awards. Time Magazine, Newsweek, New York Times and other leading publications began to hire them, and the reputation spread. Soon students and interns from other countries began to come in. Most were from neighbouring countries, but some from far flung places like Norway, the USA and Australia wanted to join.
The number of regular tutors has grown from the original two to eleven. Eight are former students. The tutor to student ratio remains very high. DrikNews, a news agency which gives emphasis to rural reporting, hires former Pathshala students for its their core staff. The staff photographers and picture editors of most major newspapers in Bangladesh are from Pathshala. Some are also working in television stations and other broadcast media. And Pathshala continues to defy gravity. A school of photography in one of the most economically impoverished nations and with no external support, continues to produce some of the finest emerging photographers.
Shahidul Alam
The school of photography Pathshala, is entering its tenth year. Greetings to all students, teachers and well-wishers who have journeyed with us over the last nine years. An exhibition “Studying Life” featuring the work of Pathshala students and alumni will mark the beginning of our celebrations.
Pioneer playright and theatre person Atiqul Huque Chowdhury will inaugurate the exhibition on 1st February 2008 at 5:00 pm at Drik Gallery.
The exhibition will continue till 15th February 2008 and will be open to all from 3:00 pm till 8:00 pm.
You are invited.
Inauguration date: 1 February 2008
Time: 5:00 pm
Exhibition duration: 1 February – 15 February 2008 (3-8 pm. every day)
Venue: Drik Gallery, House 58, Road 15A (new), Dhanmondi Residential Area, Dhaka.
Programme:
1 February 2008
5:00 pm, Drik Gallery
Opening of photography exhibition “Studying Life”
2 February 2008
Pathshala Campus (16 Sukrabad, Panthapath)
3:00 pm: Certificate Distribution
3:45 pm: Discussion on Photography
4:30 pm: Portfolio Presentation
5:15 pm: Film Show
3 February 2008
Pathshala Campus (16 Sukrabad, Panthapath)
2:30 pm: Portfolio Presentation
6:30 pm: Songs by Prachyanat
8:30 pm: Dinner
Selected photographs from the exhibition can be seen in the Drik 2008 Calendar:
calendar-2008-cover.jpg
Submissions are invited for Chobi Mela V. The theme is “Freedom”. The online submission form will be available at www.chobimela.org from the 7th February 2008.

National Geographic Honourable Mention

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Munem Wasif’s photo essay “Belongings” receives Honorary Mention at National Geographic All Roads.
source: 1st June 2007
Chris Rainier & Eduardo Abreu
All Roads Photography Program
http://nationalgeographic.com/allroads
Interview on Uprising Radio:
http://uprisingradio.org/home/?p=1577