Chobi Mela beckons


This is the moment that art lovers have been waiting for. The most prestigious photography festival in Asia, Chobi Mela is about to begin. An exciting mix of exhibitions, workshops, artist talks and discussions involving participants from all the continents awaits you.

Given recent events, the staging of Chobi Mela itself was an act of defiance. The limitations forced us to be more creative, and in many ways, this edition promises to be the most exciting ever. You’ll regret missing it.

Whether you are an active supporter or just a casual visitor, this is the time when it all comes together. Welcome to all of you who have traveled across the globe to be here. Welcome too, to those who call Dhaka your home.

Key information about the events follow. As in all major festivals, there are last minute changes. Flights are missed, visas fail to come through, people get sick. So please look up the website for the latest updates at

Make friends, see great art, soak in Bangladesh, but above all, enjoy yourselves.

Shahidul Alam
Festival Director

Copyright © 2019, Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography
House:58, Road: 15 A (New), 26 (Old), Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1209

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CALL FOR ENTRY Chobi Mela X International Festival of Photography, 2019


Chobi Mela X
International Festival of Photography, 2019

No heaven, no hell, no ever after, do I care for when I’m gone
Peace here I seek, in this sand and soil, this place where I was born
As oceans deep, as deserts wide, as forests and fences loom
As children die, as lovers sigh, no cross, no epitaph, no tomb
As bullets whiz by, as shrapnel shard, as hate pours from above
As blue skies curse, the wounded I nurse, as spite replaces love
It is home I long, as I boundaries cross, a shelter that I seek
A world for us all, white brown short tall, the boisterous and the meek
If my bosom is raised, or my beard is long, or I sleep with the ‘wrong’ kind
If my politics isn’t yours, nor my country of birth, a terrorist you will find
You return my boat to the cruel sea, back to the wars you wrought
Walls you will raise, to keep me at bay, my children in danger fraught
I love the land I was born in, the tree that gave me shade
My broken home, my shattered dreams, slain lover that goodbye bade
My slanted eyes, my dread lock hair, my tongue though strange may be
I bleed red blood, as flows in your vein, Is there a place in your heart for me?
-Shahidul Alam

Continue reading “CALL FOR ENTRY Chobi Mela X International Festival of Photography, 2019”

Drik's 2015 Calendar: "Intimacy"


Quiet moments, tender thoughts, wistful emptiness make up our love songs. Raindrops on misty windowpanes, the cool breeze of dusk, dry leaves, fill our odes to belonging. We pine. Almost inaudibly we whisper, I miss you. Intimacy is most intensely felt through absence. The warmth of togetherness, shared secrets, discovered moments remind us of how it had been. I miss you, we whisper again. Intimacy is personal. Bitter sweet. Painful. Exuberant. Wondrous. Continue reading “Drik's 2015 Calendar: "Intimacy"”

Call for themes: Chobi Mela VIII

Theme for
Chobi Mela VIII

Win a festival catalogue!
Deadline: 28 February 2014

Propose your theme for Chobi Mela VIII, January 2015

Chobi Mela, the international festival of photography since its inception in 2000 has aimed at exploring the semiotics of present day photographic practice in a broad international context, to bring about an understanding of the medium both within the industry and amongst the public at large. The past festivals, thematically addressed Differences, Exclusion, Resistance, BoundariesFreedom, Dreams and Fragility provided an opportunity to fine art photographers, conceptual artists and photo journalists, to explore possibilities, in its myriad forms.

Chobi Mela invites you to propose a theme for its upcoming eighth edition. Proposals will then be debated online and followed by a poll. The most voted theme will be chosen for the next festival and will win an exciting copy of the Chobi Mela VIII catalogue.

Deadline: 28 February 2014

Drop your theme and be a part of world’s most inclusive festival!

Best regards,

Chobi Mela Secretariat
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Reflections on Chobi Mela VII

By Alakananda Nag


Chobi Mela, a biennale photography festival held in Dhaka, Bangladesh just completed its 7th edition in January 2013. Chobi Mela (literally, photo fair), started in 1999, is Asia’s largest photo festival. This year the theme was Fragility. Chobi Mela has earned its name as an egalitarian platform for any photographer. And one is surprised by the true diversity. Bangladeshi photographer and festival director, Shahidul Alam (also the founder of Drik agency and Bangladeshi photography school Pathshala) points out that major festivals are located in the west, driven by western concerns. It is very difficult for someone from outside to get in. Here, it is possible to see the work of a student alongside that of Eugene Richards (Eugene Richard’s War is Personal was showing at the festival).

Image from Eugene Richard's exhibition "War is personal"
Image from Eugene Richard’s exhibition “War is personal”

Dhaka was abuzz with the activities that were held in multiple venues spanning 2 weeks. It was packed from morning till evening with lectures, discussions, exhibition openings, and presentations. This year there was participation from 23 countries. One would be juggling between looking at the works of young photographers like Mahdieh Merhabibi, Leandro Viana de Paula, Maika Elan in the morning and roll over to the works of icons like Mexican photographer Garciela Iturbide, Australian photographer Max Pam in the evening; stride discussions with passionate Bangladeshi photographers, with photo editors from major publications the world over.


Patrick Witty, International Photo Editor, Time, was excited by the range of photographers. “There are Kurdish students here, there are Iranians here, Nii (a photographer from Ghana), I’ve never even met Nii. Would I meet Nii in Perpignon? No. Would I meet him here? Yes! That’s what’s cool about Chobi Mela.” One of the main reasons Witty went to Chobi Mela is because he wanted to meet a new set of professionals from the photography world. He continues to say this about Bangladeshi photographers: “I knew they are really good photographers, but the level of work is really strong…it’s a small country to have such a strong tradition of photography.”   Munem Wasif, Bangladeshi photographer and teacher at photography school Paatshala says “Chobi Mela is an interesting platform where the whole world comes to this part of the world. I photograph in Bangladesh, but I also show my work to a global audience. In that sense Chobi Mela & I have grown together.”   Veneta Bulen, Group photo Editor, The Guardian stresses this by saying that Chobi Mela brings together the amazing works of unsung photographers who would otherwise not have the opportunity.


Iranian photographer Mahdieh Merhabibi was an actress in her home country. But she got tired of being directed and decided to draw her own path. That’s when she took up photography after dealing with resistance from her family. She decided to leave Iran and traverse a broader geography to find out why and how people live with war.   Nayantara Gurung a Nepalese photographer started the National Photo Archive – an unique repository of Nepalese history through photographs. Gurung presented a slideshow of the inexhaustible work she and her team are doing in Nepal. “It stated as a DIY process” she says.  As a photographer she was always drawn to family photographs, and perhaps that is where a subconscious interest started. Gurung started going to Chobi Mela in 2009. It is an added advantage that it is so close to home and the chance to meet the best industry professionals from the world over as well as from the region. “In 2009 we met people from the Arab Image foundation, and their work really inspired us.”


“My mind is opening wider because I just understand the level of ignorance we have in terms of communication with each other. Maybe that’s what photography is allowing us to do; bridge these differences and to be able to see the common space between us. To see that really we are all in the same planet.” Said Ghanaian photographer Nii Obodai. Nii has also been working to take African photography to the world (he curated a slideshow with works of photographers from West Africa) says he draws his inspiration from Alam. “I’m happy” he says, “my world is becoming broader.”   And the world was becoming broader at Chobi Mela with its diversity. Whether its Hai Zhang, a Chinese photographer based in New York who was seeking inspiration from the range of work showing at the festival or Kurdish photographer Ari Jalal, who was there to just see and learn since such opportunities are still rare back in his country. It was a reflection of the truly global world we live in.   South African photographer Jodi Bieber was conducting a workshop, and gave a telling presentation of her phenomenal work. Iturbide was dividing her time between attending lectures, her own show opening, and merging in the fabric of Bangladesh taking photographs. The philosophy of Chobi Mela for Iturbide has been significant. She feels Alam is vital to the photography world because he made Chobi Mela from nothing.

Shahidul Alam at one of the evening sessions at Goethe Institut
Shahidul Alam at one of the evening sessions at Goethe Institut

“I’m not married to photography,” says Shahidul Alam. But is instead married to what he can do with photography. With the vibrant Chobi Mela VII Alam has more than proven that one can do so much with photography.

Chobi Mela talks

Some of the highlights of Chobi Mela VII presentations

Pablo Bartholomew (India) in conversation with Munem Wasif and Shahidul Alam Continue reading “Chobi Mela talks”

Launch of Shifting Gravity in Venice

Book Launch: Shifting Gravity A Discourse on Biennials

May 30, 2013, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal,
Crozzola Hall, Venice, Italy

Cover Image: Choi Jeong Hwa, Welcome! (2013). Installation at the Kimdaejung Convention Center, designed for World Biennial Forum N? 1

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

Delhi Photo Festival 2013: Call for submissions

Hi Friends,
Hope this finds you well.
The 2013 edition of the?Delhi Photo Festival?is around the corner and with that our search for new work.
The theme for the festival is ‘Grace’ and we would love to have you send your work for consideration to the festival.

Submission call for Delhi Photo Festival 2013


We are delighted to inform you that submissions for the Delhi Photo Festival 2013 opened on Monday, March 4, 2013 and will close on April 20, 2013. It would be wonderful if you would consider submitting your work and sharing this news with friends and photo-practioners around the world. We will continue relying on your support to spread word of the Festival through emails and posting on your social media sites. Continue reading “Submission call for Delhi Photo Festival 2013”