Rafiq Azam Architecture for Green Living

by?Rosa Maria Falvo??(Editor)?,?Kerry Hill?(Foreword)?,?Kazi Khaled Ashraf?(Contributor)?,?Philip Goad?(Contributor)?,?Syed Manzoorul Islam?(Contributor)

Rafiq Azam
The first ever monograph on contemporary architectural practice in Bangladesh, dedicated to international-award-winning architect Mohammad Rafiq Azam. Continue reading “”

Shahidul Alam’s My Journey as a Witness

Rupert Grey,  media and copyright lawyer, journalist, photographer and teacher, based in Covent Garden  London.

Dr Alam’s aspiration is to teach the pixels to dance. It is a characteristically elegant and evocative phrase in comparison with the generally arid language of the digital lexicon, and it conveys the ambit of his vision and the scope of his knowledge. His Journey is a considerable one. It takes the author from a PhD in chemistry in London to photographer, political activist and educationalist in Bangladesh; it spans the 40 years since the birth of his native country, when he was 16, to its coming of age as an economic and political power amongst Asian nations.  Alam has played his part in that growing up.  He has challenged oppression and fought for justice and freedom of speech, not infrequently at considerable risk to himself and his partner Rahnuma Ahmed,[i] and he has forged an international reputation.[ii] My Journey as a Witness, published by Skira, Milan, 2011 is a self portrait of an activist who has used photography to chronicle his nation’s anguish.[iii] Continue reading “Shahidul Alam’s My Journey as a Witness”

Memories of past in motion

The Bengal Post: Kolkata 23rd November 2012

Celebrated Indian photographer Nimai Ghosh inaugurates Shahidul Alam’s book “My journey as a witness” in Kolkata.

A photography workshop at Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) redefined photography widening its meaning from an art to a powerful tool for social change. The three day?workshop organised by British Council and Drik India had Shahidul Alam, the eminent photographer and social activist from Bangladesh educating budding photographers of the city on the fine nuances of photography. The documentary photography workshop titled Photography for social impact ? To know, one must imagine was part of British Council?s Active Citizens programme. The workshop was about the right techniques to use camera as a tool for telling a story to create a social impact.
On the first day of the workshop participants were given an introduction to social documentary photography and its impact. It helped participants to interpret and create photographs that would stand out from the crowd and question the objectives of one?s perception and participation in the world we live in. The second day saw the review of the participants? photographs as they learnt the art of editing and presentation.
The concluding day witnessed the release of Shahidul Alam?s book, My Journey as a Witness, in the presence of ace photographer Nemai Ghosh. With the extensive launch session of his book, Alam took us through different pages of his life with the help of photographs. Each picture had an extraordinary story to tell. The stories changed his life at every point and gave momentum to his motto to bring a change in the society. He had been a witness but not a silent one to the changing social and political landscapes of Bangladesh. His photographs also narrated the grim tales of Kashmir and Sri Lanka.
Alam discussed the power of documenting photography and urged the participants and his audience to use it in the right spirit.
Review of “My journey as a witness” by John Morris
Please Retweet:??#Drikbooklaunch

Shahidul Alam by John G Morris in "La lettre de la photographie"

Friday 29th June 2012 La Lettre de la photographie.com


Cows grazing, Nijhum Dweep, Bangladesh, 2009 ? Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

I regard?My Journey as a Witness?by?Shahidul Alam?as the most remarkable book by a single photographer since a messenger brought me a first copy of The Decisive Moment by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1952. It is not that the two books should be compared, although they are approximately the same weight.

If Shahidul’s book becomes as influential as has Cartier-Bresson’s, it will be for an entirely different reason. For me The Decisive Moment was the book that first articulated the philosophy of photojournalism. It was also notable in that it gave equal play to photographs of East and West. Its images have stood the test of time.
My Journey as a Witness is entirely different. It is an angry book, deliberately provocative. It too has many beautiful, meaningful images, but it is a book that must be read. It is a book that will break your heart.
Shahidul Alam was educated in the West, but he is a man of the East. As a teenager he witnessed the war that gave birth to his country, Bangladesh, in 1971. This book is a kind of diary of his career, which began briefly in London but now embraces the world.
His passion is to show ordinary people as they truly live and work, not as they are seen by what he calls the “dominant cultures” of the West.
Alam thinks most people in the world are being short-changed. He thinks photojournalists can do something about that. To assist them he has created an agency called Drik (Vision) in Bangladesh; a website, banglarights.com; and a brand, MajorityWorld.com. He also founded Pathshala, the first South Asian school of photography, which sponsors biennial international meetings, ? la Perpignan.
Alam’s ambition is not only to transform photography but to transform the world. He passionately argues for true world government, government by the majority of all peoples, not just dominance of the superpowers
I happen to agree with much if not most of what he says. Read the book and decide for yourself.
John G. Morris:?Journalist?John Godfrey Morris?(1916) has spent a lifetime editing photographs for magazines and newspapers, working with hundreds of photographers, among them the great names of 20th century photography.[1]
My Journey as a Witness – Shahidul Alam
Publisher: Skira
Edited by Rosa Maria Falvo
Introduction by Sebasti?o Salgado
and Preface by Raghu Rai
Hardcover – 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-8857209661
Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1 x 11.3 inches

Eduardo Santiago's Reviews > Shahidul Alam: My Journey as a Witness

Shahidul Alam by Shahidul Alam

My rating:

didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing

add to my books

Shahidul Alam: My Journey as a Witness
by?Shahidul Alam,?Rosa Maria Falvo?(Editor)


Eduardo Santiago‘s review

Jan 01, 12
4 of 5 stars

Recommended to Eduardo by:?Ginger
Painful to read. Troubling… but beautiful and inspiring as well. Alam comes across as deeply bitter, but unlike the rest of us he uses that to make this world a better place. Through his photography, his words, his actions, he brings truths to light. Beauty, too.
This is not a coffee table book. It’s not even mostly a photography book. It’s … autobiography? Geopolitical venting? Self-congratulation? Those but also much more. From my privileged first-world position it’s difficult to understand this book in context, to know where Alam is coming from. It’s easy to accept his perspective, to be temporarily outraged, and ultimately to do nothing because the third world (?Majority World?, as Alam insightfully calls it) is so remote.
Despite that, despite Alam’s occasionally difficult prose, I think this is a book worth reading and absorbing. A perspective that may be new to many of us. A reminder of so much that still needs to be fixed in this world, and that there are people fighting to fix it.

The Best Photo Books of 2011

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Our 50 Favorite Books of 2011

In this always-on age of tweets and tumblogs and tablets, of Flickr and Facebook, of ?reality? programming and insta-celebrities, we?d like to pause a moment and look at some books. Remember books? Remember breathing?

Documentary & Photojournalism

Views of a changing world from its most curious and insistent witnesses


? Phil Borges
From “Tibet: Culture on the Edge”

Tibet: Culture on the Edge,?Phil Borges
In his fifth monograph, Borges explores both the indigenous lifestyles of the Tibetan people and their grand surroundings?each threatened by forces including industrial development, climate change and ongoing political tension between Tibet and the People?s Republic of China. Forged over 17 years of periodic visits, Borges?s affinity with the hardy natives informs the book?s illuminating text and warm portraits alike.?$45
Is This Place Great or What, by Brian Ulrich
(See our interview with Brian and additional samples from?Is This Place Great or What here).?In a decade-long survey of American consumerism, Ulrich casts a wry eye on the nation?s shoppers and employees in big-box outlets and thrift shops?contrasting boom-years decadence and bust-years desolation with chilling irony.?$50
My Journey as a Witness, by Shahidul Alam
Seeking to preserve justice and human rights through the power of the lens, Alam depicts cultures of Bangladesh, China and Pakistan in compassionate black-and-white images punctuated by saturated color bursts.?$50
Questions Without Answers: The World in Pictures, by the Photographers of VII,
Since its founding in 2001, independent photo agency VII has been responsible for some of the decade?s most significant documentary photography, as evidenced by this hefty collection of images from Alexandra Boulet, Ron Haviv, John Stanmeyer, Christopher Morris and others.$75
Memory Remains: 9/11 Artifacts at Hangar 17, by Francesc Torres
National Geographic
The human impact of 9/11 is painted in relief through these poignant images of objects removed from New York City?s Ground Zero and stored at JFK airport, waiting to to be documented by the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.?$50
The New York Times Magazine Photographs,?edited by Kathy Ryan
Covering three decades, this volume showcases The New York Times Magazine?s reliable blend of ambitious photojournalism and inventive illustrative work.?$75


Thames & Hudson

Afterwards, edited by Nathalie Herschdorfer,
Thames & Hudson
Photographers are naturally drawn to shooting disasters, not so much to what happens next. This aching collection spanning
60 years shows what happens when they stick around.?$50
Inauguration,?by Catherine Opie
Gregory R. Miller
Opie commemorates the inauguration of the first black U.S. president, Barack Obama, in shots of personal candor and celebratory energy.?$50
Hard Ground,?by Michael O’Brien,
University of Texas Press
O?Brien turns his lens on the homeless, lending them a quiet dignity in portraits made all the more moving by poetry from singer-songwriter Tom Waits.?$40


? Pieter Hugo
From “Permanent Error”

Permanent Error,?by Peter Hugo
Documentarian Hugo delivers a gripping account from Ghana: At the Agbogbloshie dump outside Accra, men and children filter through electronic waste for scraps and metal that can be melted down and sold for tiny profits. The haunting scenes from these breathtakingly toxic waste grounds powerfully signal the hazards of electronic consumption and planned obsolescence.?$50
A Window on Africa: Ethiopian Portraits,?by Hans Silvester,
Thames & Hudson
Silvester?s portraits of natives reveal their steely characters and changing lifestyles in the face of modernity.?$40


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Shahidul Alam?s ?My Journey as a Witness?: book excerpt and giveaway

A retrospective publication dedicated to the work of renowned Bangladeshi photojournalist and social activist Shahidul Alam has been published by Skira. We have a copy of the book to give away to one lucky reader.
Head on down past the fascinating opening essay from the book excerpted below, put together by curator and writer Rosa Maria Falvo, to find out how to win!

Shahidul Alam, 'Ilish fishing'. Image from book. ? Shahidul Alam.Shahidul Alam, ‘Ilish fishing’. Image from book. ? Shahidul Alam.

Impossible is nothing
Few Westerners have any understanding of Bangladesh?s complicated history or even know exactly where it is on a map. And fewer still have experienced what this country has to offer. I first went there in 2008, travelling to Dhaka from Kolkata by bus across the Indian-Bangladeshi border at Benapole, and after our first ?luxury? bus ripped a hole in its undercarriage as the driver forced the ferry ramp prematurely, we jumped onto another making its way into the belly of a night ferry, crossing the Padma (?lotus?) River, the main channel of the great Ganges (Ganga) River originating in the Himalayas. Immediately surrounded by a smiling and curious crowd, it felt exhilarating to be suddenly thrust into the enduring dynamism that is daily life in Bangladesh. Washing over my vague but cemented notions of disaster and poverty, the reality for me was inspiring, within the chaos and calm combined. I have since travelled southwards to Chittagong?s great seaport, and then north into Bogra, through Dinajpur, visiting temples and monasteries, onto Rangpur, stopping for tea with indigo farmers, heading west to Thakurgaon, giving way to elephants on the village roads, and across India on our way to Biratnagar, Nepal. Increasingly, I am struck by the pervading ?impossible is nothing? approach to life here, and by the magnanimity of the people of Bangladesh.
We met a cheeky bearded man on a bicycle, busily navigating his schedule in a city that relentlessly thwarts any plans one might have to move promptly from A to B. To describe Dhaka?s serious traffic problems is to begin with sheer understatement, and yet the locals carry on undeterred. We walked into his photo agency full of energetic youth, with an obvious respect for their teacher, in positions of responsibility that showed they belong.
Working alongside Shahidul Alam is an extraordinary experience. There is no self-righteous arrogance, impatient hustling, or delusions of grandeur. Here is a true humanitarian; honest, hard-working, and committed to the cause; a talented man who is loved by many in a social, political and environmental system that is bursting at the seams; one that needs overhauling; and one he has been intimately engaged with for over thirty years. In the most unlikely conditions, with the odds (and sometimes the guns) pointed squarely against him, he manages to get the job done with a centeredness that inspires others to do the same. And what exactly is that job? Born from a simple premise and pitted against a seemingly impossible challenge, he dares to turn perceptions around and broaden our thinking, to rebalance the dynamics of communicative power, to redistribute imagery that impacts contemporary culture, and to respect geographic diversification. Not one to shy from the harshest realities in his country, which are best understood by those living them, Alam is educating for a new vision, which enlightened photography aspires to convey. If we consider the classic vehicles of social control, what happens when multinationals and politicians representing eight countries monopolise a world whose ?majority? often stands like an elephant tied to a rope? This majority will inevitably find its strength and something practical and peaceful can be done to help recognise it.


Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam?s first UK retrospective ? picture feast


From Art Radar Journal

The first UK retrospective of works by internationally renowned Bangladeshi photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam is on at London?s Wilmotte Gallery until December 2011.?Art Radar brings you a selection of portraits and accompanying wall texts from the exhibition.
Click here to read more about the artist and the exhibition, called ?Shahidul Alam: My Journey as a Witness?, on Wilmotte Gallery?s website.
'Nurjahan's father', Chatokchora, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.
‘Nurjahan’s father’ (portrait), Chatokchora, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.
'Ali Zaman' (portrait), Chakkar Bazaar, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. ? Shahidul Alam.
‘Ali Zaman’ (portrait), Chakkar Bazaar, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. ? Shahidul Alam.
'Horipodo? (portrait), Shondeep, Bangladesh, 1991. ? Shahidul Alam. Continue reading “Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam?s first UK retrospective ? picture feast”

Win a copy of "My Journey as a Witness"

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Bangladeshi photojournalist Shahidul Alam?s first UK retrospective ? picture feast

The first UK retrospective of works by internationally renowned Bangladeshi photographer and social activist Shahidul Alam is on at London?s Wilmotte Gallery until December 2011.?Art Radar brings you a selection of portraits and accompanying wall texts from the exhibition.
Click here to read more about the artist and the exhibition, called ?Shahidul Alam: My Journey as a Witness?, on Wilmotte Gallery?s website.

'Nurjahan's father', Chatokchora, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Nurjahan’s father’ (portrait), Chatokchora, Sylhet, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.

It was reported in the papers as suicide. On 10 January 1993 Nurjahan, a woman in her twenties from a struggling peasant household from the Maulvi Bazar district of north-east Bangladesh, was found dead from poisoning at her parents? house in the village of Chatokchora.
Nurjahan Begum, 7th among 9 daughters, had been married five years before the incident. However, her husband abandoned her and she returned home to live with her parents. Later, her parents arranged another marriage for her, but since polyandry is forbidden by Muslim law, it was necessary to discover whether her first marriage had been properly dissolved. Nurjahan?s father consulted the village imam (religious leader), who declared that she was free to marry. However, he revoked this later and claimed that the marriage was illegal because the first still stood. A shalish (village council for settling disputes and trying offending villagers) met to judge whether Nurjahan and any of her family members had broken the law. The shalish found Nurjahan guilty of fornication, on the grounds that she was still married to her first husband; after debating the punishment, it decided that 101 pebbles should be thrown at Nurjahan and her second husband.
Pebbles were preferred to stones since the intention, reportedly, was to shame the couple rather than hurt or kill them. Nurjahan?s parents were also to be punished; the shalish decreed that they should be beaten with a broom. Nurjahan was made to stand in a hole that was then filled, half burying her, to receive her punishment. As she did so a member of the shalish approached her and castigated her for the shame she had brought on her family. She was not fit to live and should kill herself. Nurjahan was found dead the next day.
Rahnuma Ahmed, public anthropologist and writer

'Ali Zaman' (portrait), Chakkar Bazaar, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Ali Zaman’ (portrait), Chakkar Bazaar, Kashmir, Pakistan, 2005. ? Shahidul Alam.

In 2006 I returned to the Siran Valley in Kashmir eight months after I had first been there photographing the advent of winter. The land was full of new crops, but many of the homes were still to be rebuilt. Ali Zaman and his friends had gathered in a tea stall. Old friends chatted over a cup of tea. Zaman was one of many who had thought he was witnessing ?Keyamat? (doomsday). The phone booth outside, was a telephone under the open sky. A barber had set up shop amidst the rubble. School children sat around a blackboard propped up in a field. People got on with their lives.
Shahidul Alam

'Horipodo? (portrait), Shondeep, Bangladesh, 1991. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Horipodo? (portrait), Shondeep, Bangladesh, 1991. ? Shahidul Alam.

The cyclone shelter was packed with people, mostly women and children, some crying, others screaming. Amid the chaos, came a loud knock. We struggled to open the door against the wind. The night sky was bearing down on the small gap we had made. A man pushed his way in as we struggled to lock the door again. He was a strong burly type, but he was shaking. ?Give me a biri? he said. I got angry. ?Can?t you see what?s happening here? The state people are in? And you want a smoke?? He wasn?t cruel, but his stare was cold. ?agaro jon re puita aisi. biri de.? (I?ve buried eleven. Just hand me a biri).
Shahidul Alam

'Ship breaking worker' (portrait), Rahman Yard, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2008. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Ship breaking worker’ (portrait), Rahman Yard, Chittagong, Bangladesh, 2008. ? Shahidul Alam.

Development isn?t simply about money. What about developing mutual respect? Enabling equitable partnerships? Providing enabling environments for intellectual exchange? What about creating awareness of the underlying causes of poverty? These are all integral parts of the development process. When all things are added up, cheap images providing clich?d messages do more harm than good. They don?t address the crucial issue: poverty is almost always a product of exploitation, at local, regional and international levels. If poverty is simply addressed in terms of what people lack in monetary terms, then the more important issues of addressing exploitation are sidelined.
Lacking the advantages of our Western counterparts, image-makers in the Global South have had to rely on ingenuity and making-do in order to move from being fixers, to authors in their own right. We have had to be pioneers. The Sanskrit word ?Drik? means vision, inner vision, and philosophy of vision. This vision of a more egalitarian world, where materially poor nations have a say in how they?re represented, remains our driving force.
Shahidul Alam

'Hemayetpur peep hole', Hemayetpur, Pabna, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Hemayetpur peep hole’ (portrait), Hemayetpur, Pabna, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.

In 1994 Dr A.K.M. Abdus Samad, director of the Hemayetpur mental hospital in Pabna, Bangladesh, was pragmatic ? ?An average of 2 percent of all populations is schizophrenic and of course there are many other mental ailments. In this country of 130 million, we have one hospital with 400 beds. What do you expect? The government?s allocation for food is 18 taka per day (about 45 US cents at the time). Many mental patients are hyperactive and require more food. A good portion of that 18 taka goes to the contractor. The remainder has to provide three meals a day. So what can I do? I make sure they get plenty of rice. That way at least their stomachs are full. We have little money for drugs and virtually no staff for counselling, so we keep them doped. Then they don?t suffer as much.?
Shahidul Alam

'Champa: Naxalite series' (portrait), Jessore, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Champa: Naxalite series’ (portrait), Jessore, Bangladesh, 1994. ? Shahidul Alam.

The Naxalite movement was going to liberate them. It was a fight against oppression. Champa would dress up as a boy to sneak into the party meetings and listen to the speeches. She was one of many who left home to join the party. This movement was different. Women could be leaders, and take part in battle. Weddings were simple affairs. With a hand shake and a salute. Champa had been a leader, but when the party disbanded, they had nowhere to turn to. They had burnt their bridges.
Shahidul Alam

'Girl in wheat field' (portrait), Bangladesh, 1997. ? Shahidul Alam.‘Girl in wheat field’ (portrait), Bangladesh, 1997. ? Shahidul Alam. Continue reading “Win a copy of "My Journey as a Witness"”

My journey as a witness on National Geographic website

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Click here to find out more!Shahidul Alam ? My Journey as a Witness

My Journey as a Witness

Shahidul Alam

Beautifully illustrated,?My Journey as a Witness, is the first publication of over two decades of Shahidul Alam?s photography. This inspiring personal journey offers unique, insider perspectives on Bangladesh and its many messages of struggle and triumph. Borrowing from the concept of blogging, it is a chronological account ? in words and images ? of a photographer, teacher and activist living in one of the most impoverished countries in the world, and his attempts to engage with international media, while challenging the categorization of his people as icons of poverty. It also documents an entire artistic movement of photojournalists fighting the establishment in Bangladesh. Through personal stories, essays, poetry and photographs, Alam is testimony to the complexities of living and working in an environment where the personal is always political. This book also dwells on the organizational methods that have allowed the remarkable Drik photo agency to survive and excel in an international setting. In the backdrop are the personal and emotional tensions that inevitably arise where political goals are often achieved at the cost of individual needs.
About the book
This book showcases Shahidul Alam?s photographs, more than 100 color and black and white plates illustrating the journey of an artistic, social, and political witness from inside Bangladesh. This groundbreaking work retraces his personal vision spanning three decades and provides the best interpretative and investigative angles into a culture and reality that is otherwise often misunderstood in the West. Using photography and journalism as its parameters, it is the first comprehensive vision of Bangladesh. These images are not ?about? the region from a European perspective, nor are they an ethnographic account of an ex-colonial world. Instead, this volume is an ?on-the-ground? insight, exploring its topography with decidedly competent indigenous eyes. A personal ?way of seeing? ? the journey of a witness ? this book offers a reflective picturing of national and geographical truths, where the ?other? is no longer a stranger. Alam provides a purposeful alternative to the media driven images of poverty and destruction, literally defying received notions of the Subcontinent. After many years of struggle, he is a pioneering catalyst, inspiring development from within his ?majority world?; founding an artistic movement that cannot be silenced: the emergence of local photographers, achieving an intimacy with their subjects that truly understands and so rivals Western perceptions.
Alam?s image making carries its editorial eloquence far beyond its subject matter. For over 30 years, he has led the way in developing photography as a discipline in Bangladesh, producing an entirely new generation of acclaimed artists in the international arena. His writing style is personal, sometimes fast paced, often reflective, with magnificent imagery interwoven throughout the narrative.
Purchase?My Journey as a Witness here
About the author
Shahidul Alam is a photographer, writer, curator and activist. He obtained a PhD in chemistry at London University before switching to photography. He returned to his hometown Dhaka in 1984, where he photographed the democratic struggle to remove General Ershad. A former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the award winning Drik Agency, the Bangladesh Photographic Institute, and Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography; considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Director of the Chobi Mela International Photo Festival and chairman of Majority World Agency, Alam?s work has been exhibited in galleries such as?MOMA in New York, the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the Royal Albert Hall in London and The Museum of Contemporary Arts in Tehran. A guest curator of the National Art Gallery in Malaysia and the Brussels Biennale, Alam?s numerous photographic awards include the Mother Jones and the Andrea Frank Awards. He has been a jury member in prestigious international contests, including World Press Photo, which he chaired. An Honourary Fellow of the Bangladesh Photographic Society and the Royal Photographic Society, Alam is a visiting professor of Sunderland University in the UK and principal of the South Asian Media Academy in Dhaka, Bangladesh. A prominent social activist Shahidul Alam is also a promoter of new media and has lectured and published widely on photography, new media and education, in the?USA, Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America.