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Category: lectures

Strolling with the zeitgeist

By Brian Dougherty: Frieze

MONOGRAPH

Six decades of avoiding being categorized

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Patrick Ireland,?Five Identities, 2002, photograph

After training as a doctor in Ireland, Brian O?Doherty was an art critic for The New York Times in the 1960s, produced and hosted two art series for television; edited Aspen 5+6 (1967) (which included Roland Barthes?s essay ?The Death of the Author? and Susan Sontag?s ?The Aesthetics of Silence?); and was editor of Art in America from 1971?74. Throughout, he continued to make work as an artist. O?Doherty also served for 19 years as director of the film, radio and television section of the National Endowment for the Arts, where he funded artists and exhibition spaces working with new media. His published works includeInside the White Cube: Ideologies of the Gallery Space?(1976) and the novel?The Deposition of Father McGreevy?(2000), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. The first monograph on his work,?Brian O?Doherty/Patrick Ireland: Between Categories(Brenda Moore McCann; Lund Humphries/Ashgate), was published in 2009. O?Doherty continues to make art and write. His novel?The Cross-dresser?s Secret?will be published by Sternberg Press later this year; his solo show at Kunstmuseum Bayreuth, Germany, opens 3 July. The following essay is an edited version of the lecture he delivered at Frieze Talks in 2012.

PopTech 2011 Interview:

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PopTech 2011 Interview: Shahidul Alam on photography for change

Lindsay Borthwick?(?BIO / ??POSTS )??|??Friday, October 21, 2011 UTC
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Shahidul Alam walked on stage on Thursday wearing a marigold-colored salwar kameez, a camera over his left shoulder, and a beltpack slung around his hips. There was no mistaking his calling. The Bangladeshi photographer, activist and social entrepreneur has almost single-handedly rebalanced the world of photojournalism, long dominated by Western photographers and their worldview. He has shifted its lens eastward and southward by training legions of photographers in his homeland, creating an award-winning photo agency to sell their work and founding a prestigious international photography festival to showcase their talent. And this fall, he published a book,?My Journey as a Witness, telling the story of Bangladeshi photography as an instrument of social justice. He serves as an ambassador of this movement, in the words of PopTech?s executive director, Andrew Zolli, ?travelling the world leaving new cultures of art makers in his wake.? We sat down with Alam backstage in Camden, Maine.
PopTech: You founded?Drik, a photo agency, and the?Chobi MelaInternational Festival of Photography. Why did you feel it was important for Bangladeshi photographers, as well as their peers, to have these outlets for their work?
Shahidul Alam: Firstly, it was a question of addressing this very distorted perception people have of what I call the ?majority world? countries. Our poverty is a reality, but that is not the only identity that we have. Secondly, I wanted to challenge a very unidirectional form of storytelling that has — to a large extent — been propagated by the West. The richness and diversity of human life gets lost in a very agenda-led information distribution system. So that was the beginning.
We also wanted to celebrate our own culture. It?s not that I am against white, Western photographers producing work in Bangladesh — I think our ideas need to be challenged just as much. It?s the monopoly of dissemination that I was against. So we wanted to create a space for diversity — for both Western work and our own work. That?s where the Chobi Mela festival came in — to facilitate that cultural infusion.

From the Lions Point Of View

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By Peter Marshall

From the blog >Re Photo

?Isn?t it a thrill to have him here in London? said the woman behind me to a friend as we we all waited, hardly an empty seat in the small lecture area of National Geographics?s Regent St first floor, and the next hour or so listening to Shahidul Alam talking, showing pictures and answering questions certainly justified her anticipation.
? 2011, Peter Marshall
Probably most of us in the audience had some idea of the incredible transformation Dr Alam has made to the world of photography, not just in his native Bangladesh but worldwide, although so much still remains to be done, but I think all of us found there was even more to him – and his family – than we had been previously aware.
Alam?s mother in particular was a formidable woman; determined to get a university education despite the opposition of her mother-in-law to the education of women, she left home every morning in a burkha ?going to visit friends? and went to study. Armed with her degree she dedicated herself to the education of women, and having found little backing for her project, bought a tent and used it to set up her own school for girls.
Later too we heard that his father had dared to evade the ?invitation? sent to him along with the other leading intellectuals of the country to take tea with the occupying Pakistani generals in 1971 just a few days before the end of the war. It was a story accompanied by a picture by Rashid Talukdar of a severed head in rubble, from the killing fields of Rayerbazar. Altogether more than a thousand teachers, journalists, doctors, lawyers, artists, writers and engineers were massacred.