Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018 and National Geographic Explorer at Large, photographer, writer and curator Shahidul Alam has championed human rights throughout his career. Recipient of the Shilpakala Award, the highest national award given to Bangladeshi artists,
Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. Returning to Dhaka in 1984, he began documenting the democratic struggle to remove General Ershad. A former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam’s work has been exhibited in leading galleries like MOMA, Centre Georges Pompidou and Tate Modern. A speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Alam is a visiting professor of Sunderland University and RMIT and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. He has chaired the international jury of World Press Photo. He has also received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Arts London.
John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine described his book “My journey as a witness” as “the most important book ever written by a photographer”. His book “The Tide Will Turn” was on the New York Times list of “Best Art Books of 2020”. Alam is the founder of the Drik Picture Library, the Pathshala Media Institute, the Majority World Agency and the Chobi Mela festival of photography. He is also a new media pioneer and introduced email to Bangladesh in the early nineties.
A new book “Listening To My Archives” is currently under production by Steidl, based on Alam’s work featured at Documenta 15. His show “Singed But Not Burnt” is currently touring India. A version of the show opens at Wrightwood 659 Gallery in Chicago in April 2023.
Considered a ‘Prisoner of Conscience’ he was arrested in 2018 for criticising his government and spent 107 days in jail but was released on bail following a massive international campaign for his release. In 2020 Alam won the International Press Freedom Award conferred by the Committee to Protect Journalists and in 2021, the inaugural CASE Award for Humanitarian of the Year. He is editor in chief of the online newspaper DrikNews and is currently setting up a centre for investigative journalism in Bangladesh.