03 February 2013
after my first satisfying visit to Chobi Mela VII, I was determined to keep the momentum going and visit the rest of the exhibit…. I knew it was gonna be hard with the heavy traffic of Dhaka…. the biggest exhibit was at Shilpakala Academy, which isn’t too close to my place considering the time it may take to get there…. but the good thing was it was relatively closer to Dhaka University, so I could actually cover two more venues if I could allocate a bit more time…. so, that was the plan, it went…. well… almost according to plan….
its been a while since I had visited the Kalpana Boarding (in Old Dhaka) exhibit of Munem Wasif’s “Blood Splinter of Jute” during Chobi Mela V back in February 2009… that was an exhibit in a venue completely different from the others…. it gave me sort of a nostalgic feel to it at that time… I got almost a similar kind of feel yesterday when I arrived at the Lichutola venue within Charukola (Institute of Fine Arts, Dhaka University)… Samsul Alam Helal’s “Love Studio“ was one great experience… a unique work involving a traditional studio photography with extremely colourful backdrop and down-to-earth people who would aspire to do a lot… the concept was great and the selection of photos truly gave a great feel to the viewer….. the work reminded me of a similar kind of photo-story displayed at ‘Through the Lens: Bangladesh’ (TTL) group’s Bangladesh in Frames IV exhibit by Ferdous Ahmad…. Ferdous’ work was a bit different, involving normal people at Cox’s Bazaar Beach…
anyway, the next venue was just on the other side of the road, Chobir Hat… two exhibits were there… the first one, by B.S. Shivaraju (Cop Shiva), an Indian photographer who captured a person who imitates Mahatma Gandhi to inspire people… titled “Being Gandhi“, it gave pleasure and hope to the viewers… the big size B&W prints were thoroughly enjoying…. and as it was B&W, the silver painting on the face of Bagedahalli Basavraj, the subject, seemed like illuminated under daylight…
the other exhibit at the same venue was by Saiful Huq Omi, who has gained quite a bit of international fame by now through his works…. he also happens to be a school-mate of mine… his work was on Rohingya people from Myanmar who are living around the world as refugees…. for this work entitled “The Disowned and the Denied“, Omi traveled far and wide looking for his subjects…. some of the photos gave a heart-wrenching picture of these country-less people…
it was then down to some ride to reach Shilpakala Academy…. there were four galleries there filled with pictures this year…. a total of 24 artists!!…. I knew it was going to be difficult to cover the whole thing…. yet, the effort continued with as much honesty as possible…. my aim was to at least enjoy what I was seeing…. trying to cover the whole exhibit and thus not getting a clear picture of any of the exhibit entries, would be something that I would avoid…. I started with the second floor, with galleries A and B….
Laura El-Tantawy’s work on Egypt entitled “Faces of a Revolution: EGYPT“, was mainly covering the Egyptian revolution… it had a series of strong portraits…. the faces of the revolution…. some of the prints were humongous and gave an awesome feel…. the same gallery housed the works of Ziyah Gafić, who worked on the personal belonging of the unidentified holocaust victims in the Bosnian conflict…. the photos gave an eerie feel, but produced enough emotions with the diversity of the found items to captivate the viewer…. entitled “Quest for Identity“, this is one exhibit one should not miss….
the other gallery on the same floor housed the most unique work of Maïmouna Guerresi, that literally blew me away!!… this piece, entitled “Inner constellations“, was a work of spirituality.. the work brings out ‘the beauty and subtleties of racial diversity and multiculturalism’… one has to take a pause and give an awe after watching this…. the work is surreal and 3-dimensional…. if someone thinks its just photography, he/she wouldn’t be more wrong…. Maïmouna is a photographer, sculptor, and installation artist… and one has to see her work to believe….
I have to say that Max Pam’s travel photography gave a different meaning to the term “travel photography”…. it was awesome in one word!… I think his work should be taken as an example of how travel photography should be done given that someone has the passion to really cover the cultural diversity that travel photography brings… entitled “Contingeny in the Three Worlds“, the exhibit had an unusual number of images…. many square images formed massive rectagular jigsaw puzzles…. this is one exhibit one can’t miss….
the gallery housed works of quite a few other artists, including “Fragile” by Ilaria Di Biagio, “49.65 %, Violence against women” by Walter Astrada, and “The National Womb“ by Anastasia Taylor-Lind… this last mentioned one was really unique in its choice of subject…. it covered the government inspired baby boom in the war-torn Nagorno-Karabakh …. Mohammad Anisul Hoque’s “Quest for Self“ was another of those surreal works, which can catch attention of any visitor… the presentation of the work was also unique, which accentuated the surrealistic theme….
the gallery closure schedule neared by the time we could cover the second floor…. so, it was time to call it a day…. may be, with another day’s inspiration, I could give another visit there to see the rest of this awesome festival….