‘THE TIDE WILL TURN’ By Shahidul Alam; edited by Vijay Prashad (Steidl). The eminent Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam was jailed for more than three months in 2018 for denouncing the repression of protesters. Released after a mobilization of local and foreign support, he reflects here on his prison experience and a life of fighting for justice (for laborers, survivors of gender violence, Indigenous groups, and others) through image and deed. Some of his finest pictures illustrate the text, as do his selections of noteworthy images by other Bangladeshi photographers. Solidarity and integrity reign, along with tenacious optimism, expressed in a heartfelt exchange of letters with the writer-activist Arundhati Roy. (Read about his current exhibition.)
Shahidul Alam: The Tide Will Turn
Edited by Vijay Prashad
Texts by Shahidul Alam and Arundhati Roy
To my fellow prisoners in Keraniganj Jail, and the youth of Bangladesh who continue to resist, and to Abrar Farhad who was murdered by fellow students for his defiance.
Book design by Shahidul Alam and Holger Feroudj / Steidl Design
7.3 x 9.3 in. / 18.5 x 23.5 cm
37 black-and-white and 74 colour photographs Four-colour process
€ 28.00 / £ 25.00 / US$ 30.00
“On the night of 5 August, I did not know if I was going to live or die,” writes Shahidul Alam, one of Bangladesh’s most respected photo- journalists, essayists and social activists, remembering his arrest, torture and eventual 101-day incarceration in Keraniganj Jail in 2018. Just a few hours before, he had given a television interview criticising the government’s brutal handling of the student protests of that year which had called for improved road safety and an end to wider social injustice—in his words, “the years of misrule, the corruption, the wanton killing, the wealth amassed by the ruling coterie.” Combining Alam’s photos and texts with those of a range of collaborators, including artwork by Sofia Karim and fellow inmates, The Tide Will Turn documents his experiences, the global support for his release, and the ongoing fight for secularism and democracy in Bangladesh and beyond.
Described by its editor Vijay Prashad as about “the beauty and tragedy of our world, about how to photograph that dialectic,
and about how to write about it,” Continue reading “The Tide Will Turn”
We spot a lens peering at us from the corner of our eye. Immediately we straighten up, fix our hair, smooth the rough in our clothes, consciously make – or avoid – eye contact. Only the well trained is able to visibly avoid responding to the camera’s presence. The professional photographer prides in her ability to take ‘natural’ photographs, where her intervention is invisible. Yet, peering through family albums, wedding folders or a Facebook status we find ourselves actively inviting the portrayal of how we want to be seen. Whether we consider a photograph of ourselves to be ‘good’ largely depends on how well the photographer has represented us, as we would want it. As such the photographer’s success depends not so much on her aesthetic sense or insight, but on her ability to please the sitter. While this applies to the casual portraitist, it is much more true of the professional photographer. Her bread and butter depend on a satisfied client and as such, are driven by an external agenda. Whether it be a corporation, or an NGO or a newly wed couple, a good photographer is one who delivers what is required.
Continue reading “Embracing the Amateur”
Preface by Christian Caujolle
It only takes a single glance to recognize a classic. The confirmation can be seen here, in this direct, forthright photography — the same quality that came through in the series devoted to “Salty Tears”, in which Munem Wasif examined, documented and questioned the situation regarding water in his country, Bangladesh. Classic by choice, starting with the choice of black and white, whose relative distancing from reality demands exacting precision in the composition. Arising, as always in photography, from a succession of rejections, eliminations and decisions, this choice precludes the picturesque quality that too often prevails when lands and peoples are viewed through the prism of exoticism. But black and white, while it places the photographer within a documentary tradition long associated with journalism, obliges him to go beyond merely transposing a visual record of the world. He must take a position, and he does, deliberately and consistently.
Book Launch: Shifting Gravity A Discourse on Biennials
May 30, 2013, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal,
Crozzola Hall, Venice, Italy
The Gwangju Biennale Foundation is pleased to invite you to the launch of the book?Shifting Gravity on the 30th of May at Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. This?book, published by the Gwangju Biennale Foundation and Hatje Cantz, presents the issues,?discourses, and practices that have been evolving over the past 20 years with the?development of biennials around the globe.
The catalyst for this publication was the World Biennial Forum No.1, an international forum?held in Gwangju, South Korea in October 2012. The forum and publication were organized?through the collaboration of the Gwangju Biennale Foundation, the Biennial Foundation,?and the ifa (Institut f?r Auslandsbeziehungen). During the five-day forum, directors and?representatives of biennials and a number of professionals discussed a wide range of?issues regarding biennials and their meaning as a global cultural phenomenon.
Shifting Gravity is composed of three main essays on the theme of biennials and thirty-nine?essays on different biennials held around the globe. Ute Meta Bauer and Hou Hanru, the?directors of the forum, took on the role of editors for the publication of the book.
Chobi Mela is one of the biennales featured.
For RSVP please contact:?Serene Pac
Want to take a sneak preview of the contents of Positive Light? This preview shows the introduction plus the first five spreads of each section of the book. The original contest was broken down into Culture, History, Place and People.
DO NOT BUY THE BLURB COPY from the link above! We are only using Blurb for preview purposes.
Pledge to buy a copy (or copies!) of Positive Light
Don’t forget, up until 31 March 2013 you can pledge to purchase Positive Light at our pre-sales crowdfunding campaign at this link. Every little bit helps — and more importantly this campaign will help Drik continue its work in social justice in Bangladesh.
We are immensely pleased to announce that proceeds from Positive Light will also support WildTeam’s efforts to protect nature, particularly the Royal Bengal Tiger. Bangladesh has one of the last remaining strongholds of tiger populations. Tigers are an endangered species, which has lost 97 percent of its population over the last century. There are 3,200 magnificent tigers left in the world and these face huge poaching pressure as the demand for tiger parts continues to rise with rising incomes across Asia.
The Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest on earth, can hold approximately 400 tigers. This remote corner of India and Bangladesh is a unique stronghold for tigers. Here, WildTeam is working alongside the local people to overcome tiger threats and build a future for tigers in Bangladesh.
The founders of Crowdsourced Travel cannot imagine a world without tigers. And that?s why we?ve committed a part of the proceeds of Positive Light project to raising funds and awareness for Bangladesh? premiere tiger conservation organization WildTeam.
By purchasing Positive Light you are also supporting the efforts of WildTeam in Bangladesh. Thank you. Ten percent of Positive Light’s profits are going to WildTeam’s work in preserving tigers.
Visit our crowdfunding site — your support will help this fledgling project get off the ground.
Photography is many things. It’s a tool of fine art, an expression of scientific innovation and a vehicle of creativity. But ultimately, it is storytelling where photography harnesses its full potential. Because it is so powerful, it has also been used to stereotype people and meet certain agendas.
In our work at Drik, we are extremely sensitive to the way photography of Bangladesh has been used to propagate a western imperialist and colonial view of the world and more recently the developmental paradigm. But such perceptions actually represent a very narrow view of Bangladesh. The fact that it is a country rich in culture, art and heritage is something rarely heard of in the outside world. At Drik, we believe this perception stems from the monopoly on storytelling of the South that the West has had for so long. And it is local photographers who will challenge that most effectively.
This monopoly has led to many things. Bangladesh has a lot of NGOs and as a result the country is utterly steeped in a story of development. There is no way out of this, because a story of poverty fuels the need for welfare. One reinforces the other; perhaps one was made necessary for the other. We have been relegated to being an aid recipient, creating a patron-client relationship that is extremely worrying.
It has affected our work ethos and our attitude toward donors. While there is talk about ‘partnership,’ there are still a large amount of people in Bangladesh who shape things according to the development agenda without questioning the validity of it and whether or not it actually meets the needs of Bangladeshi people. Patronising storytelling has been damaging to the psyche and the economy.
There is an African saying that goes ‘Until the lions find their storytellers, stories about hunting will always glorify the hunter.’ And so I would like to remind our photographers: We have to be our own storytellers. We have to ensure we are sensitive and respectful of our subjects.
Those are the cardinal principles of the photographic process and at each stage we need to go back to those core principles and ensure there is humanity in the work we produce. Photographers need to be in control of the rest of process, including dissemination of those images. That is where Drik has made a central difference, not merely in terms of our pictures, but in terms of our politics, our activism and our social agenda.
And through that work, we have also been discovering a fuller picture of Bangladesh. There is a success story. Despite the problems, there have been some huge gains. If we look at Bangladesh’s economy, the heroes are the garment workers, the migrant workers and the farmers in the field. They’re the people who have kept the country alive and provided the thrust to the economy. The private sector has also played a good role despite the corruption. And so it is they who should be credited for the economic growth we have seen. Some of the new archaeological discoveries reveal an incredible unknown heritage. Who knew about a branch of the Silk Road running through Bangladesh, or the fact that 7th century BC Mesopotamian coins have been discovered here? This region was one of the cradles of civilisation.
We would like those stories to be told and we would like Bangladeshis to be telling those stories. And I believe this book is an integral part of that process.
The crowdsourcing project Positive Light itself relates to the process of self reliance. By freeing itself from corporate or donor funding, it no longer needs to propagate their agenda. This is a story of Bangladesh, the way Bangladeshis see it.
About Positive Light:
Join us in this exciting venture. We need your support. Go here. Act now. Bring all your friends.
Drik has announced a new partnership with Crowdsourced Travel, the creation of Mikey Leung, who is the author of Bangladesh: The Bradt Travel Guide.
Drik is supporting the publication of Positive Light, a new coffee table photography book sharing the beauty of Bangladesh with the rest of the world.
Printing Positive Light is a big project for Drik, and due to a sponsor pulling out of the project, we have needed to take a loan in order to support its publication. That’s why we need you to join us in shining a positive light on Bangladesh, by pledging to purchase a copy of this wonderful product.
Visit our crowdfunding site – your support will help this fledgling project get off the ground.
About Positive Light: Mikey Leung’s TEDxDhaka talk
Though with youtube still blocked in Bangladesh you might have problems viewing it.
Support Bangladeshi photographers who work for social justice by purchasing Positive Light