CMV Updates

CMV opens in Kathmandu today (22nd May 2009).

Watch it live at:


Impressive banners in the streets


And then the rains


Plan B: escape to the gallery


Inside the gallery

click to see 360 degree view of gallery (needs flash)


Chobi Mela V catalogue PDF now available




Demotix was founded with two principles at its heart – the freedom of speech and the freedom to know. Its objective is nothing if not ambitious – to rescue journalism by connecting independent journalists with the traditional media.


Camille Zakharia in Al Riwaq Gallery

The output of one month photography workshop Camille conducted at Al Riwaq Gallery in Bahrain last February?will culminate in a group exhibition at the gallery’s new location at A’ali Mall.
The? Exhibition “Transformation of Memories”, curated by Mayssa Fattouh, is a selection of the best works from each of the 16 paticipants. The exhibition includes?also?32 works from 4 different suites she did about Bahrain?that span almost 2 decades in the making – Stories from the Alley, Distorted Memories, Improving Lives & Double Vue. “Transformation of Memories” opens on April 5 at 7:00pm
Camille Zakharia – Distorted Memories.jpg
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Camille Zakharia – Stories from the Alley.jpg
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Camille Zakharia – Double Vue.jpg
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Camille Zakharia – Improving Lives.jpg
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CMV presented in Phnom Penh


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Teaser video clips (in Bangla) for Chobi Mela V. Feel free to copy and provide links to this site or

Freedomtrack Arrives in Dhaka

Tom Hatlestad's Defender approaching the gates of Drik in Dhanmondi. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World
Tom Hatlestad's Defender approaching the gates of Drik in Dhanmondi. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. ? Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World

Tom Hatlestad began his journey in Oslo on the 24th November 2008. Travelling alone in his Defender Land Rover, he drove through Sweden, Western Europe, Poland, Romania, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan India and Nepal to arrive in Dhaka yesterday morning, the 17th January 2009. Tom has been taking interviews of people, asking them to interpret the word Freedom. The text and the photographs he produced on the trip will be the basis of an exhibition in Chobi Mela V.
Tom being photographed by Shahidul. Drik. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Tom being photographed by Shahidul. Drik. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. ? Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World

Tom through the windscreen of his Defender. Drik. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World
Tom through the windscreen of his Defender. Drik. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World

Tom demonstrating his tent. Drik. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World
Tom demonstrating his tent. Drik. Dhaka. 17th January 2009. Shehabuddin/Drik/Majority World

The route taken by Tom Hatlestad. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
The route taken by Tom Hatlestad. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Looking down at the tall Norwegian. From left to right in the background Reza, Jessica, Shehab, Mahbub, Irfan. Drik. Dhaka. 17th. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Looking down at the tall Norwegian. From left to right in the background Reza, Jessica, Shehab, Mahbub, Irfan. Drik. Dhaka. 17th. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Follow Tom’s journey

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Tom Hatlestad showing Tutul the notes and photographs made during the overland trip from Norway to Bangladesh. 17th January 2009. Drik. Dhaka ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

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Frenzied preparations for the upcoming festival Chobi Mela V. ? DrikAV

Gaza violence attracting people to citizen-journalism

Demotix was founded in 2008 by Turi Munthe and Jonathan Tepper, to bridge the gap between the struggling mainstream media and the emerging potential of online and mobile journalism by citizens. Munthe said, ?Journalism is changing. All over the world, foreign correspondents are being withdrawn and bureaus are closing. We think of Demotix as an antidote. We want to counter the demise of international reporting by connecting freelance photographers, amateurs and the average person with the global media. We are all journalists now.?
Turi Munthe will be presenting Demotix at the evening presentations of Chobi Mela V at the Goethe Institut at 7:00 pm on the 1st February 2009.

The World Comes to Dhaka

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and nowhere is this aphorism so faithfully reflected than at the bi-annual Chobi Mela, where every year the organisers bring together a spectacular array of the best exhibitions from around the world together with work-shops, lectures, slide-shows, and films, for a month-long photography and visual arts extravaganza.

It is that time of the year again, and this year the Chobi Mela has broken new ground in terms of innovation to bring an unprecedented collection to our shores from every corner of the globe. The month-long festival which opens at the end of this month includes the very best of our domestic talent side by side with some of the most exciting, most inventive, and most reputed names from the rest of the world.

In this issue of Forum, we feature seven of the exhibitions whose works will grace the Chobi Mela, to give our readers a taste of the richness and variety of the works that will be on display. We invite our readers to take a trip through the following pages and feast their eyes on these provocative and thought-provoking images from all over the world.

Each image captures something essential, and we hope that the stories that they tell will remain with those who view them for a long time to come. From Nepal to Mexico to South Africa to China
? and every spot in between — the featured exhibitions tell a story and shine a spot-light that illuminates our understanding so that we can travel to far-flung locales and learn about the heart-breaks and hardships, the simple pleasures and struggles of different cultures and peoples everywhere in the world.

All this is coming to Dhaka — the world and everything in it — and we hope that our photo feature allows you all to take a small piece of the world home with you, to have and to hold, to seek inspiration from, and to see life in a new light.

Click here for the Photo Feature


Press conference at Drik Gallery II

The first press conference of Chobi Mela V took place at 12:00 pm on the 10th January 2009 at Drik Gallery II. Photographers interested in participating in the numerous workshops to be held during the festival were requested to submit applications with brief resumes to

M A Quashem of Drik Internet (left) and Jeevani Fernando, Drik's HR manager, set up the multimedia presentation prior to the press conference. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
M A Quashem of Drik Internet (left) and Jeevani Fernando, Drik's HR manager, set up the multimedia presentation prior to the press conference. ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Monirul Alam at Chobi Mela V press conference at Drik Gallery II. 10th January 2009. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Monirul Alam (with mobile phone) at Chobi Mela V press conference at Drik Gallery II. 10th January 2009. ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Chobi Mela V press conference at Drik Gallery II. 10th January 2009. Dhaka. Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Chobi Mela V press conference at Drik Gallery II. 10th January 2009. Dhaka. ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his return to Bangladesh from Pakistan on the 10th January 1972. Rashid Talukder/Drik/Majority World
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on his return to Bangladesh from Pakistan on the 10th January 1972. Rashid Talukder/Drik/Majority World

It was on this very day in 1972 when a triumphant Mujib returned to a free Bangladesh. This photograph is one of many historical images from the Drik archives which will be shown at the “Bangladesh 1971” show at Drik Gallery II in Chobi Mela V. The exhibition premiered at Rivington Place in London in April 2008 and was later shown at the Side Gallery in Newcastle.

Carol Chomsky dies at 78.

Brilliant and accomplished, Carol Chomsky taught for many years at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and wrote oft-cited articles about how young children learn to read. And yet, she possessed talents that didn’t easily fit on a curriculum vitae.

Photographer unknown
Photographer unknown

Through her work in language development and psycholinguistics, Dr. Chomsky also helped young children learn the mechanics of reading, and by doing so gain greater social acceptance in their classrooms. Dr. Chomsky died of cancer yesterday at her Lexington home. She was 78.
She was the wife of MIT linguist Noam Chomsky who will be participating in a video conference at the opening of Chobi Mela V.

Tom Hatlestad now in Nepal

I am Tom Hatlestad. On this page I will describe the journey and the project Freedom Track as its rolls through two continents and x-number of countries. The core of the project is the idea of freedom. A camera, a Land Rover and a handmade leather book will be my most important tools in collecting stories and thoughts. The people I meet, their portraits and thoughts will be the basis of an exhibition in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I will post photos and text here as I go, so you can join me on my journey.
I hope for a good journey.
Tom is taking photographs along the way which he will be showing at Chobi Mela V

American Photo Magazine names Planet Shanghai one of the best photo books of 2008.

Planet Shanghai will be showing in Chobi Mela V.

Author Justine Guarglia will be conducting a workshop at Chobi Mela V. This is what he had to say about the news: As you might have guessed, the editor-in-chief of the magazine is a huge fan of pyjamas in the work place and has been using the book to lobby the owners of Hachette (the publisher) to change the dress code from “Casual Friday” to “Pyjamas Everyday”! Somehow, I think if Hachette was based in Shanghai, it just might fly… so perhaps we need to wait 10 more years when China owns the world, and our dreams will come true…

Tom Hatlestad Reaches Turkey

Tom sent you a message.
Subject: Turkey
Dearest Shahidul
I am in Turkey now, feels ok – got a passanger yesterday for Shiraz in Iran. Got about 42 portraits for my project. Looking forward to arrive at your place, next year 🙂
Do you think it is possible to borrow some of the frames and mountings from Patshala that were used for the students exhibit when Iwe were teher last time. Or is it simple just to make new ones?
All the best.
Big hug.
About Freedomtrack.
Join Tom’s facebook group to keep track of his Land Rover Defender as it makes its way across to Dhaka

Chobi Mela Secretariat email:


Jessica Lim

Tanvir Murad

Shahmoon Mashruq

List of Participating artists

Stichting Doen Patron of Chobi Mela V

DOEN Foundation, which was established by the Dutch Postcode Lottery in 1991, works towards the achievement of a liveable world in which everyone has a place. Acting within its four fields of operation of Sustainable Development, Culture, Welfare and Social Cohesion, it provides subsidies where necessary, and arranges loans and equity investments where possible. Chobi Mela is delighted to announce that Doen Foundation will be the patron for Chobi Mela V.
We would also like to express our sincere gratitude to The Prince Claus Fund, our former patron, which has generously supported Chobi Mela in the past. The Prince Claus Fund continues to support the festival as a full partner.

Stichting Doen, the patron for Chobi Mela V
Stichting Doen, the patron for Chobi Mela V

Khaled Hasan
The banner being used by Tom Hatlestad on his overland journey to Dhaka. Photo ? Khaled Hasan. Design ? Tine Poppe.

Mahasweta Devi, Noam Chomsky and Stuart Hall, three living legends on video conference at opening of Chobi Mela V.

30th January 2009

Mahasweta Devi was born in 1926 in the city of Dacca in East Bengal (modern day Bangladesh). As an adolescent, she and her family moved to West Bengal in India. Born into a literary family, Mahasweta Devi was also influenced by her early association with Gananatya, a group who attempted to bring social and political theater to rural villages in Bengal in the 1930’s and 1940’s. After finishing a master’s degree in English literature from Calcutta University, Devi began working as a teacher and journalist. Her first book, Jhansir Rani (The Queen of Jhansi), was published in 1956. This work also marked the beginning of a prolific literary career. In the last forty years, Devi has published twenty collections of short stories and close to a hundred novels, primarily in her native language of Bengali. She has also been a regular contributor to several literary magazines such as Bortika, a journal dedicated to the cause of oppressed communities within India. In 1984, she retired from her job as an English lecturer at a Calcutta university to concentrate on her writing. In the last decade, Devi has been the recipient of several literary prizes. She was awarded the Jnanpath, India’s highest literary award in 1995. In the following year, she was one of the recipients of the Magsaysay award, considered to be the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. She currently resides and works in Calcutta, India.
Avram Noam Chomsky (born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor emeritus and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as the father of modern linguistics. Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident, an anarchist,[8] and a libertarian socialist intellectual.
In the 1950s, Chomsky began developing his theory of generative grammar, which has had a profound influence on linguistics. He established the Chomsky hierarchy, a classification of formal languages in terms of their generative power. His 1959 review of B. F. Skinner’s Verbal Behavior challenged the behaviorist approaches to studies of behavior and language dominant at the time and contributed to the cognitive revolution in psychology. His naturalistic approach to the study of language has affected the philosophy of language and mind.
Beginning with his opposition to the Vietnam War Chomsky established himself as a prominent critic of US foreign and domestic policy. He is a self-declared adherent of libertarian socialism which he regards as “the proper and natural extension of classical liberalism into the era of advanced industrial society.”
According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index in 1992, Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar during the 1980?92 period, and was the eighth most-cited source. At the same time, his status as a leading critic of American politics has made him a controversial figure.
Stuart Hall (born February 3, 1932 in Kingston, Jamaica) is a Jamaican cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1951. Hall, along with Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, was an early and influential contributor to the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies or The Birmingham School of Cultural Studies. At the invitation of Hoggart, Hall joined the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at Birmingham University in 1964. Hall would take over from Hoggart as director of the Centre in 1968, and remained there until 1979. While at the Centre, Hall is credited with playing a role in expanding the scope of Cultural Studies to deal with issues dealing with Race and Gender, and with helping to incorporate new ideas derived from the work of French theorists.[1] Hall left the Centre in 1979 to become a Professor of Sociology at the Open University. Hall retired from Open University in 1997 and is now a Professor Emeritus.[3] British newspaper The Observer called him “one of the country’s leading cultural theorists”. His wife is Catherine Hall, also an academic.
Moderator: Shahidul Alam

Tom Hatlestad begins Freedom Track:


? ?

Freedom Track – an inquiry into freedom –

The Freedom Track project is to conduct a photo documentary journey by road from Norway to Dhaka in Bangladesh in connection with Asia?s largest fotofestival, Chobi Mela V, starting January 30th 2009. The festival?s theme is Freedom.?????
The journey?s aim is to explore how people I meet along the road from Norway to Bangladesh defines the word Freedom. The result will be presented as an exhibition during the festival in Dhaka.
My starting point is Norway and the Nordic Countries, then onward through Eastern Europe, former East Block Countries through Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India and Nepal to Bangladesh.
The countries I will be traveling through all have a history of wars and occupations, and I believe, without knowing, that the people living in these countries will have different opinions and understandings of the word Freedom.
Perceptions of the the word / term Freedom will be collected along the journey and will be presented at the festival Chobi Mela V through an exhibition. The exhibition will be produced and finished on the road, and the idea is to have everything ready for presentation as I reach Dhaka.
The second part of the project will be when I return to Norway with an extended bulk of material after a journey home through a different corridor.

I travel alone and driving a Land Rover Defender and will try to share my travel experiences along the way.

Tom Hatlestad
? ?
? ?
in the land rover – on the road

Write on Tom’s facebook wall.

Interview on Radio NRK.


Chobi Mela V starts on 30th January 2009 in Dhaka.

Watch this space for continuous updates from now on. Archival information available from
Right from its inception Chobi Mela has faced adversity. The initial attempt in 1995 coincided with the first one week ‘hartal’ in the country. It took us five years to recover. Chobi Mela I, held in January 2000, featured the unique exhibition “The War We Forgot”, featuring some the greatest names in photography, Abbas, David Burnett, Don McCullin, Kishore Parekh, Marc Riboud, Mary Ellen Mark, Marylin Sylverstone, Raghu Rai, Rashid Talukder and Raymond Depardon who documented the war of liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. The show was curated by Robert Pledge and myself, but the night before the show was to open, a government directive came to remove some of the photographs. The government wanted a sanitised version of the war. We refused to buckle and rather than censor the work, relocated from the National Museum to our own gallery in Dhanmondi. Polly Hope’s exhibition which was then being shown in the Drik Gallery was hastily relocated to make room for “The War We Forgot”.
The pattern has continued, with Chobi Mela constantly pushing the limits. Chobi Mela IV was no exception. With the streets of Dhaka in flames, we calmly proceeded to hold an international festival of photography. Robert Pledge was with us again, with the Contacts 30 show at the National Museum. During his talk at the Goethe Institut, we were informed that the government had declared emergency, the military was in the streets and that a curfew was to be enforced in 90 minutes. The audience was unperturbed and wanted the show to continue. Robert calmly finished his lecture before we bundled everyone out of the Goethe Institut Auditorium into the empty winter streets.
The situation this time was somewhat different. The nation is still under emergency rule, but that was not the cause of the problem. Chobi Mela has grown enormously over the years and both the quality and quantity of entries far exceeded previous submissions. Unknown photographers from countries never before featured submitted strong work. We needed to ensure venues for this vast collection. We had informed the National Museum and Shilpakala Academy (The Academy of Fine and Performing Arts) way in advance. The booking sheets were empty, but unofficially we were told that ‘the government had plans’ for these venues. Insiders warned us that our resistance to the proposed Guimet exhibition was part of the equation. Bureaucrats had long memories.
After weeks of no response, we approached the adviser Rasheda K Chowdhury. She was helpful, but that didn’t seem to make much difference. October, November and December were apparently kept in reserve for these ‘plans’. There was no way we could accommodate this expanded festival without these major venues, so we reluctantly decided to shift to January 2009. Again there was a hold up. This time the Victoria Memorial in Kolkata had made a tentative enquiry for January 2009. No dates had been provided. The museum was stalling again. Meanwhile Zhuang Wubin came up with the useful information that the Chinese New Year was on the 26th January. I hurriedly checked with Dave Clark and Davide Quadrio, to see how crucial this would be. With that in mind, and the floating dates for Victoria Memorial, I approached the adviser again. We opted for the 29th January 2009. Pushing it further back would encroach upon the 21st February and its associated events. Finally last night the Director General of the Museum gave us his nod. It couldn’t be the 29th. Thursdays were out. So we settled for the 30th instead. All the usual caveats were invoked. The government could cancel at any moment. There were no guarantees. But we’ve worked with these restrictions before. The 30th January 2009 it is.
While many have welcomed the new dates, others have faced disappointments. Wubin had purchased non-refundable tickets. Line Kristin Woldbeck and Arne Stromme whom I’d met during a lecture in Kristiansund had taken leave from work and booked holidays to coincide with the festival. Pedro Meyer and Nadia Baram along with their entourage of 30 Mexican photographers were unable to reschedule. Jan Gruvborg had to reluctantly drop out. Others however have found the new dates preferable, and some like Mark Sealy are able to make it because of the changes. Marcelo Brodsky hopes to come with his wife Gianna for a holiday!
Now with the venues settled we can start with the long overdue allocation of shows to spaces and make the final decision of which work to feature. Even with the venues being obtained there will be good deserving work which will sadly be left out. But we will have a great festival. Start preparing for the opening on the 30th January 2009. We’ll party all night!
Welcome to Dhaka.
Shahidul Alam

10 thoughts on “CMV Updates”

  1. Shahidul–I just finished organizing and hosting a fundraising Barbeque to help raise tuition money for an undocumented young woman who was accepted at Berkeley but because of her status is ineligible for state financial aid. (A few years ago, one piece of progressive legislation passed in the state of California allowed undocumented young people who had attended California public schools and managed to be accepted for enrollment in a UC campus to enjoy the significantly lower tuition rates for in-state students; but that still means $9,000. per year as tuition; although there is financial aid and work-study employment for those who can’t afford that tuition.. the catch is that the undocumented aren’t eligible for those forms of support so it is still unlikely they can avail themselves of the new provisions of in-state tuition rates.) Given the current financial crisis in Cal’s state government, it’s not an auspicious time to push for added legislation that would extend state student aid to the undocumented when so many services are about to be cut. But I’m thinking of starting to plan a campaign once/if the current crisis passes, and meanwhile to explore creating a small foundation that would provide loans to such students who can’t get loans elsewhere. All of which is to say that I’ve used up most of my available discretionary income but the news of the upcoming photo festival sound enticing enough that I will see if I can find a cheap fare for late January, put it on my credit card and start saving immediately. In any case, best wishes for that and all else. Sally S

  2. Its great to know that the dates are firmed up. Had planned around November but will rework it and come in Jan’09. I’m sure there is so much work ahead. If there is anything we can do to help, do let us know.
    ~ Suchit

  3. Thanks Shahidul for the new dates. Now, I have booked my new departure date together with Wubin. And we look forward to the reunion! It is the week of lunar new year and will celebrate in Dhaka with some oranges, i suppose. Won’t want to miss Chobi Mela V!

  4. Please send Tom my best wishes and congratulate him with finishing the first part of his trip. He visited me in Vilnius on his way south. Having read his blog all the way, I look forward to see and read his book from his majesic journey! And best of luck with your exhibition!
    Ulf Hallan

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