Chobi Mela VII International Photography Festival on NYT’s Lens blog

A Rohingya child in a camp in Bangladesh. Photo Saiful Huq Omi

A Rohingya child in a camp in Bangladesh. Photo Saiful Huq Omi

From Bangladesh, a Photo Festival Builds Bridges

JAMES ESTRIN of the Lens Blog featured Drik’s Chobi Mela International Festival and said:

There are well over a hundred photo festivals around the world, and new ones pop up almost daily. Many claim to be international, usually exhibiting a few local photographers alongside some international — read Western — photographic luminaries.

What sets apart the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is that it is not only truly international, but is also perhaps the world’s most demographically inclusive festival. Running this year from Jan. 25 through Feb. 7, it will feature photographers from 23 countries and every continent except Antarctica. This year, separate programs, presentations and exhibits focus on photography from China, Russia, Nigeria, Latin America and the Middle East as well as Bangladesh.

He featured 2 of the artists at the festival.

One was Saiful Huq Omi  a renowned Bangladeshi photographer (Slides 8 to 12) who has been documenting the plight of the Rohingyas, a Burmese Muslim ethnic minority. Tens of thousands of them have fled oppression, human rights violations and violence in western Myanmar and now live as refugees in Bangladesh.

Photo Maïmouna Guerresi

Photo Maïmouna Guerresi

The other was  Maïmouna Guerresi who was raised a Catholic in Italy but converted to Islam after encountering an African Sufi community in Senegal. She is a sculptor, video artist and photographer who lives both in Italy and Senegal.

Read more at:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/from-bangladesh-a-photo-festival-builds-bridges/

Lens Blog on Rashid Talukder & the War of Independence

Never a day passes at the Drik Picture Agency where I work without a mention of Rashid Talukder’s name. He is our honoured and much loved photographer. A heroic and legendary, he documented the Bangladesh’s War of Independence.  I didn’t know him when he was alive but only found him in his images.  And so why do we talk about him daily – because we are trying to classify and catalogue his vast collection of over 100,000 images he trusted and left to Drik.

A young boy leads a procession during the mass uprising of 1969. in Dhaka,The boy was killed shortly after the photo was taken. Photo Rashid Talukder/Drik

A young boy leads a procession during the mass uprising of 1969. in Dhaka,The boy was killed shortly after the photo was taken. Photo Rashid Talukder/Drik

He pops up at various points – on a wall at Drik, a request for licensing an image, in “The Birth Pangs of a Nation,”; in the documentary on the Chobi Mela festival, in a Fine Art Print …  I cannot pass his photo of the young boy activist without saying “ am so sorry” to the little boy who was shot soon after the photo was taken.  I remember how nauseated I felt when I saw the gruesome image of the decapitated head. How much more awful would it have been to keep a steady hand ad stay focused on the photo documentation of the war.

Then there are the gentle fleeting moments of life in rural Bangla he captured. The young  boy and his goat; the teenage wives on a wooden grinding mill with their babes; the row of ducks that stopped a military truck dead in its track;  or the tortoise ambling along at his own speed..

I am sorry, I never got to know him, though I remember how he was feted when he received the Life Time achievement at the Chobi Mela festival in 2006.  Wish we could call him to ask more about the large number of photos he didn’t caption, but today in the Lens blog he speaks to us.

Thanks James for introducing him to the West and the rich legacy of his.

See a selection of photos and read more of what James Estrin has to say on the  “Images of Independence, Finally Free