Flashback 04: Shadi Ghadirian

Photo by Shadi Ghadirian

Some more flashbacks before the official launch of Chobi Mela VII! Less than 76 hours to go!

Today Iranian photographer Shadi Ghadirian talks about her experience of Chobi Mela.

1) What drew you to Chobi Mela? What are your strongest memories?

When I met Shahidul in person in Iran and he showed me the catalogues of Chobi Mela . Travelling to Dhaka was like a big surprise for me. All of it, from the beginning until the festival’s end.

2) What separates Chobi Mela from other festivals?

I felt so familiar with it all. The people who worked there were very friendly and I felt at home.

3) What is it about Dhaka that has made the biggest impression on you?

Lots of people were everywhere and they were OK with everything. I remember Nomoney and also I remember the nice girl who was my interpreter. I remember the night that we went on the boat cruise with all the photographers – there was lots of singing and dancing involved. I remember that all over the city there were photographs from festival. I also had the pleasure to meet the editor of ZoneZero, Pedro Meyer. Moreover I met the mother of Shahidul, an old lady who lived in the middle of Chobi Mela, in the same house! I loved Rahnuma (Shahidul’s partner) and I was lucky because I could stay at Rahnuma’s mother’s house where I could see for myself how Bangladeshi people live.

These are the things which stay in my mind.

4) If you were to describe Chobi Mela to a friend who had never been to Bangladesh before, how would you do so?

It would be a totally new experience. Don’t miss it.

5) Has coming to Chobi Mela changed your perception about Bangladesh?

Yes. Yes of course, I’d love to canoe there again and just walk in the streets and observe the people.

6) What is the one word that best describes Chobi Mela?

It is a friendly festival.

Visit Shadi Ghadirian’s website: www.shadighadirian.com

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.” His recent book “The Tide Will Turn” published by Steidl in 2020, is listed in New York Time’s ‘Best Art Books of 2020’. Alam received the “International Press Freedom Award” for 2020 from ‘The Committee to Protect Journalists’.

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