Rubbing shoulders: Aung San Suu Kyi, Abbas Kiarostami, Gayatri Spivak

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is an Indian literary critic, a theorist, and a University Professor, the highest honor for professors at Columbia University, where she is a founding member of the school's Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Professor Spivak was speaking at a seminar at Dhaka University, organised by Naya Krishi, a farmers' cooperative in Bangladesh. ?: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

She was witty, connected, caring and sharp. Seamlessly moving between colloquial Bangla, bhodrolok Bangla and English, Spivak mesmerised, but did a few ticking offs too. All in her charming style so it took you a while to work out that a steam roller had gone over you. It was standing room only in packed seminar room at Dhaka University. Spivak was one of five visiting speakers, but clearly the one they had all come to see.
I was lucky as I had just returned from Tehran, when Rahnuma told me of the event, and Chulie and Yan managed to get my 100mm macro lens to me in time and I pedalled off to Dhaka University.
A couple of days back, I had made my way to Chiraz Square in Tehran to meet up with my old friend, the brilliant film maker and photographer Abbas Kiarostami. I returned with an arm load of books, including his early masterpiece, Snow White. Here are a couple of pictures from the book:
From the book: Snow White. Photo: Abbas Kiarostami

 
From the book Snow White. Photo: Abbas Kiarostami

The meeting earlier with Aung San Suu Kyi, in Myanmar was opportunistic. But hey with people like that, one doesn’t care how it works out 🙂
 
 
 
 

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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