Festival Puts Bangladesh on Photography Map
By Margherita Stancati
When one of Asia?s largest photography festivals, Chobi Mela, kicks off on Friday, it is expected to draw photographers from over 30 countries to a show that has turned an unlikely destination into an important stop on the international photography circuit over the last decade.
Photographers, many of whom are photojournalists, will be showcasing their work in multiple venues ? including on mobile rickshaw vans ? across Bangladesh?s capital city Dhaka for this year?s edition of the two-week festival.
Chobi Mela founder and director Shahidul Alam said the original idea behind the festival was to provide a platform for South Asian photographers to display their work and to connect with a global audience.
Mr. Alam said the festival is also about challenging the prevailing narrative on the history of photography, which he criticizes as heavily ?eurocentric.? Despite South Asia?s long-standing and vibrant photography scene, Mr. Alam said, ?It looks as though photography practice only happened in the West.?
Since it first started in 2000, the festival has grown in scope and size attracting internationally-acclaimed photographers and drawing around 200,000 visitors in recent years, according to figures provided by festival organizers.
This year?s theme??Dreams??may seem an odd choice for a festival known for photojournalism, which often captures harsh realities. Mr. Alam says there is no contradiction, pointing to the social vision that photography can convey.
Many of the artists who will be displaying their work at Chobi Mela?such as Britain?s Joanna Petrie and Karen Knorr, who?ll be showing works from her India Song series?frame dreams as conceptual fantasies. Others, including Dhaka-based Sayed Asif Mahmud and Spain?s Aitor Lara, capture them more as impressions of reality.
Many emerging talents from South Asia will be showcasing their work at this year?s edition, the festival?s sixth, including Bangladesh?s Munem Wasif and India?s Amit Mehra.
But Mr. Alam said Chobi Mela is not just about displaying works of art ? it?s also about creating a forum for photographers to engage in critical debate on the social role of their work.
With that in mind, running parallel to the 29 print exhibitions are a series of talks that include a video conference with International Criminal Court Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo. He is likely to address the role of photography in influencing public opinion on war crimes such as those allegedly committed during Bangladesh?s war of independence in 1971. A tribunal to try war crimes was set up in Bangladesh last year.
The violent struggle that led to the country?s independence from Pakistan in 1971 has been a running theme at Chobi Mela ? and the focus of its first edition.
?Not only was it so central to our existence, but the who?s who of photojournalism were in Bangladesh at the time,? said Mr. Alam.
Among them were French photographer Raymond Depardon, British photojournalist Don McCullin and American photographers like Mary Ellen Mark, and David Burnett, whose more recent work on Iran will be on display in Dhaka this year.
If you can?t be in Dhaka this weekend, you can still see the works that will be exhibited there through live streaming. And after Chobi Mela ends, the show will tour South Asia. Dates haven?t been set yet, but it?s expected to reach India in the fall.
Slideshow: A preview of Bangladesh?s Photo Festival.
Posted by Chulie De Silva at Chobi Mela VI blog
Photographs: Saikat Mojumder
The workshop will continue on the 20 and 24 January. 2011
Peter Bialobrzeski?s Chobi Mela VI Workshop ?Contemporary Documentary Practice? started? today at the? Goethe Institute Bangladesh.
This workshop aims to look at the possibilities of creating ?A sense of Place? within the context of the international Photo Documentary Scene. The Workshop is supported by the Goethe Institut.
The celebrated Norwegian photographer Morten Krogvold is one of Pathshala‘s favourite tutors. He is also a regular visitor to Chobi Mela. Morten’s show “Encounters” will be on display at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Gallery from the 21st January 2011.
Photos by K M Asad
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
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.
- 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.
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
Chobi Mela VI to Open a Portal to a Restive World of Dreams
?All that we value, that we strive to uphold, all that gives us strength, has been made of dreams?
Dhaka, Bangladesh. 28 December, 2010😕 The Chobi Mela VI – International Festival of Photography will be held from 21 January to 3 February, 2011 in Dhaka Bangladesh and will present the work of creative artists participating from 30 countries. The festival with its theme ?Dreams? is designed to be a birthplace of ideas, and a crossover meeting point for many artists. It will open a portal to a mystical world of images showcasing new trends in photography and bringing to the fore issues of our troubled world.
The unique festival will be launched on the 21 January, 2011 at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. Parallel exhibitions will be held at Alliance Francaise, The Asiatic Gallery of Fine Arts, The British Council, Drik Gallery, The Goethe-Institut and the Lichutala at Faculty of Fine Arts, Dhaka University. In congruence with the exhibitions there will be 8 workshops, 2 portfolio reviews and a week-long discussions, seminars and lectures at Goethe-Institut Auditorium that will initiate debates and discussions on issues central to contemporary photographic practice.
The main attraction on the 22 January at Goethe-Institut will be a video conference with Dr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court.? In this position, his mandate is to select and trigger investigations and prosecutions of the most serious crimes of concern to the international community, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The Inaugural ceremony and the evening presentations will also be broadcast ?Live through Internet? at: www.drik.tv.
The first Chobi Mela festival (Dec.1999-January 2000) was launched by Drik and Pathshala South Asian Media Academy to fill the need for a forum for sharing work and ideas, a platform for debate that was missing on this side of the globe. This inaugural festival focused on ?Differences? in the world we live in and in a sense was prophetic. The twin towers disaster followed and buried beneath the rubble the freedoms that the world has since lost. ?In a world ravaged by war, to turn to ?Dreams? after ?Differences?, ?Exclusion?, ?Resistance?, ?Boundaries? and ?Freedom? is to return to what holds us together in the face of all our obstacles, the focus of all our longings. In a vastly unequal world, it is our insistence on justice and our ability to ride the waves, which still keeps us dreaming,? says Shahidul Alam, Festival Director and Managing Director of Drik. ?I dream that Chobi Mela will play a role in re-writing the history of photography, and correcting the extremely Eurocentric version of history that is currently propagated.?
Many bodies of work that went on to become well known were first shown in Chobi Mela. Considered to be the most demographically inclusive photo festival and the resulting pollination has led to many exciting exchanges, and given rise to several new festivals in the region for which Chobi Mela has been the catalyst.
Ensuring the general public?s access is an important part of the festival and admission for the festival is free. Mobile exhibitions on rickshaw vans are now a trademark of the Chobi Mela festivals. The festival provides an opportunity not only to enjoy the outstanding work of national and international photographers but also raises important social issues critical to our existence.
Chobi Mela Site
Chobi Mela Blog
For more information please contact Chobi Mela Secretariat
House 58, Road 15A (New),?Dhanmondi, Dhaka 1209
Tel +8802 8112954, 9120125, 8123412
Liason and Communication:
Chulie de Silva:
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.
?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 ?
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”