Footprint Modulation: art, climate and displacement

An exhibition by Metaceptive Projects + Media

5th June – 5th July 2015 across five venues in Durham, UK

Introductory description from the curator and artistic director, Kooj Chuhan

International artists, researchers, communities and local activists are combining forces using art to push climate change up the agenda in a ground-breaking exhibition titled Footprint Modulation. The exhibition focuses on the massive and increasing impact that climate change will have on humans by forcing us to abandon our homes and migrate. The renowned, award-winning Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam presents work for the first time in the North East. Platform based in London use film and performance to highlight the corruption within global oil. A number of UK-based artists from diverse backgrounds provoke us to connect with human realities in other countries. The New York based architecture and digital art company Diller Scofidio + Renfro present a film commissioned by the Cartier Foundation to artistically re-interpret data about climate migration.

FootprintModulation-poster_A4_PREVIEW Continue reading

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Kalpana’s Warriors

Exhibition opens on 12th June at 6:00 pm at Drik Gallery II.
Open every day from 13-17 June 3:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Drik Picture Library invites you to the world premier of “Kalpana’s Warriors”, an installation of laser photo etchings on straw by Shahidul Alam.

The work is based on research by Saydia Gulrukh, Sadia Marium, Rahnuma Ahmed and photographs by Shahidul Alam on the forced disappearance of Kalpana Chakma 19 years ago. The principal accused, Major Ferdous has still not been charged.

The installation will open at 6 pm on the 12th June 2015 and will remain open from 3 pm – 8 pm until the 17th June.

The exhibition is the third in the series of expositions on Kalpana Chakma by Shahidul Alam and part of Drik’s ongoing “No More” campaign. It is being curated by A.S.M. Rezaur Rahman

Kaptai Lake, once a tropical rainforest, was inundated to create a hydroelectric plant. The land that went under water as a result of the dam construction, was 40% of the total arable land in the area. Along with that, 29 square miles (75 km2) of the Government-owned forest, and 234 square miles (610 km2) of other forest land went under water. About 18,000 families with a total of almost 100 thousand people were also displaced. The palace of the king of the Chakmas was also flooded and is now under water. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Kaptai Lake, once a tropical rainforest, was inundated to create a hydroelectric plant. The land that went under water as a result of the dam construction, was 40% of the total arable land in the area. Along with that, 29 square miles (75 km2) of the Government-owned forest, and 234 square miles (610 km2) of other forest land went under water. About 18,000 families with a total of almost 100 thousand people were also displaced. The palace of the king of the Chakmas was also flooded and is now under water. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

They told me you were quiet. But I felt the rage in your silence. That when you spoke, they rose above themselves. But I felt their fear. That they held you amidst them. But I felt their loneliness. They pointed to the Koroi tree where you would all meet. The banyan tree under which you spoke. Ever so powerfully. They pointed to the mud floor, where you slept. I touched the mat that you had rested upon, and I knew I had found the vessel that must hold your image.

New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government had still not honored the terms of the peace accord nor addressed the Jumma peoples concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International as of June 2013 the Bangladeshi government had still not honored the terms of the peace accord nor addressed the Jumma peoples concerns over the return of their land. Amnesty estimate that there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

They had tried to erase you, your people, your memory. They had torched your homes and when coercion failed, when you remained defiant, they took you away, in the dead of night.

Abandoned typewriter in the room where Kalpana and her comrades used to meet. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Abandoned typewriter in the room where Kalpana and her comrades used to meet. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The leaves burned as the soldiers stood and watched. The same leaves they weave to make your mat. The same leaves I shall burn, to etch your image. Will the burning mat hold your pain? Will the charred leaves hold your anger? Will the image rising from the crisp ashen leaves reignite us? Will you return Kalpana?

Pahari protestors could previously go to the GOC's office to express their grievances. Today, in Khagrachori, they no longer have that access. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Pahari protestors could previously go to the GOC’s office to express their grievances. Today, in Khagrachori, they no longer have that access. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

The Shapla Mor in Khagrachori was also a centre of protest. Pahari protesters are no longer allowed there, though Bangali settlers have access, says Kabita Chakma, former president of the Hill Women's Federation. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
The Shapla Mor in Khagrachori was also a centre of protest. Pahari protesters are no longer allowed there, though Bangali settlers have access, says Kabita Chakma, former president of the Hill Women’s Federation. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

For nineteen years I have waited, my unseen sister. For nineteen years they have waited, your warriors. Pahari, Bangali, men, women, young old. Was it what you said? What you stood for? Was it because you could see beyond the land, and language, the shape of one’s eyes and see what it meant to be a citizen of a free nation? For pahari, bangali, bihari, man, woman, hijra, rich, poor, destitute, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Atheist, Agnostic, Animist.

Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World
Posters in the meeting room where Kalpana and her comrades used to gather. Khagrachori. CHT. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World

You had reminded us that a nation that fought oppression, could not rule by oppressing. That a people that fought for a language, could not triumph by suppressing another’s. That the martyrs who died, so we might be free, did not shed their blood, so we could become tyrants. That we who overcame the bullets and bayonets of soldiers, must never again be ruled through the barrel of a gun.

That Kalpana is what binds us. That is why Kalpana, you are not a pahari, or a woman or a chakma or a buddhist, but each one of us. For there can be no freedom that is built on the pain of the other. No friendship that relies on fear. No peace at the muzzle of a gun.

These Kalpana are your warriors. They have engaged in different ways, at different levels, sometimes with different beliefs. Some have stayed with you from the beginning. Others have drifted. They have not always shared political beliefs. But for you Kalpana, my unseen sister, they fight as one.

The Process

The process involved in creating these images are rooted to the everyday realities of the hill people, the paharis. Repeatedly, the interviewees talked of the bareness of Kalpana’s home. That there was no furniture, that Kalpana slept on the floor on a straw mat.

Rather than print on conventional photographic media, we decided we would use material that was part of pahari daily lives. The straw mat became our canvas. The fire that had been used to raze pahari homes, also needed to be represented, so a laser beam was used to burn the straw, etching with flames, the images of rebellion.

It was the politics of this interaction that determined the physicality of the process. The laser beam consisted of a binary pulse. A binary present on our politics. In order to render the image, the image had to be converted in various ways. From RGB to Greyscale to Bitmap, from 16 bit to 8 bit to 1 bit. To keep detail in the skin tone despite the high contrast, the red channel needed to be enhanced. The Resolution and intensity and duration of the laser beam needed to be brought down to levels that resulted in the straw being selectively charred but not burnt to cinders.

A screen ruling that separated charred pixels while maintaining gradation had to be carefully selected. And then, working backwards, a lighting mechanism needed to be found that broke up the image into a discrete grid of light and dark tones, providing the contrast, the segmentation and the gradation, necessary to simulate the entire range of tones one expects in a fine print. This combination of lighting, digital rendering, printing technique and choice of medium, has led to the unique one off prints you see in this exhibition. A tribute to a unique woman that had walked among us.

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Majority World exhibition in Rome: Justice in Focus

IDLO Photo Exhibition in Rome

Farnesina Porte Aperte 2015

22 – 29 May 2015

justice in focus in rome

IDLO’s photo exhibition “In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Agenda” will form part of this year’s initiative by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to open its doors to the general public. From 22 until 29 May 2015, visitors will be able to participate in “Farnesina Porte Aperte” and view the exhibition during guided tours of the building. The Farnesina’s art collection is internationally recognized, and IDLO is proud to have been chosen to exhibit alongside this.

The photographs were also featured by The Guardian.

guardian piece on justice in focus

Curated by IDLO and the photo agency Majority World, the exhibition focuses on the challenges of development and the rule of law. From gender equality and indigenous rights to energy poverty and land tenure, it presents the rule of law as lived experience. The pictures vividly explore the human side of the rule of law and its importance in everyday life.

 

“In Focus: Justice and the Post-2015 Agenda” illustrates these themes through 32 images – taken by photographers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Brazil, India and Kenya – ranging from the Amazonian settlement of Colniza, Brazil, where rule of law measures have reversed illegal logging and deforestation, to the energy-starved metropolis of Kibera, Africa’s largest slum.

 

To sign up for a guided tour, please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation’s Farnesina Porte Aperte website and choose the “art route”, currently available from Monday 25 until Wednesday 27 May.
Before traveling to Rome, the exhibition was shown at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, to coincide with the 28th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Over the coming months, it will be shown in Milan, New York, Washington and The Hague, and will return to Rome for an exclusive viewing in November.

 

For more information, please read this article in Italy’s Corriere della Sera, visit theIDLO mini-site and watch video interviews with the photographers.
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Current residencies, workshops and opportunities for artists

Crystal Ruth Bell Residency – Duos, Trios & Collectives!

Duos, trios, collectives & collaborations, apply for a funded residency this July in Beijing!

Deadline: 25/05/2015
Location: China

Crystal Ruth Bell Residency – Duos, Trios & Collectives!

Truth, Lies, Lore | Visual Arts Residency at The Banff Centre

Practitioners of all disciplines are invited to explore what is hidden and what is revealed.

Deadline: 27/05/2015
Location: Canada

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Citizen, Defend Thyself

Originally published in Deutsche Welle

“The government can’t protect people in their bedrooms” the prime minister angrily retorted when questioned about the brutal murder of a young couple, both journalists, in their own home. Three years later the police have not made any progress in their investigation. No charges have been brought. After the murder of the bloggers it seems, the government is unable to protect you in the streets, at a book fair or even on the doorstep of your own home.

Protesters demonstrate against the killing of blogger Ananta Bijoy Das in Bangladesh. Mr Das was hacked to death by masked assailants in the third such killing in the country in less than three months. Photograph: EPA/STR
Protesters demonstrate against the killing of blogger Ananta Bijoy Das in Bangladesh. Mr Das was hacked to death by masked assailants in the third such killing in the country in less than three months. Photograph: EPA/STR

Intolerance appears to be the order of the day in Bangladesh, impunity the general rule and denial the default  response. Since the government and the entire state machinery have been so occupied with arresting, killing and or arranging for the disappearance of opposition activists, any citizen not directly linked to the power structures is a potential target not only for the state machinery, but also for a host of racketeers, extortionists, fundamentalists or plain opportunists.  The judiciary no longer allows anyone to challenge the government even more worryingly the police are demanding that torture be made legal. Continue reading

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The valley of Bhaktapur

Growing up in Kathmandu was magical. At the time, literally a small quaint Kingdom. A home with a small cow shed and an orchard in the backyard. A larger than life tree towering over an old temple, stretching it’s long arms over the entire neighbourhood. At dawn the sounds of brobdingnagian temple bells, struck loud enough to invoke the gods from their sleep. All that against the backdrop of a cacophony of the zillion birds that lived on this tree. Giant wheel chariots, living goddesses and royal processions. The infamous Titaura (local sweet and spicy candy) for which would endeavour any Everest. Demons and Yeti’s were still real and come autumn, the breeze would fill the skies with kites. Not a day went by without adventure.

Photo by @sumitdayal
#nepalphotoproject #nepalearthquake #bhaktapur#nepal

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Situation Report: Dhaka, April 26, 2015: Hazard Type: Earthquake

Location: Nepal, India and Bangladesh

Reporting Period: 26 April’15

Location: Nepal, India and Bangladesh

Detail Information:

An earthquake rattled the Dhaka, Chittagong, Barisal, Rajshahi, Dinajpur, Rongpur, Kushtia and different parts of the country on April, 25. The 7.8 magnitude earthquake’s epicenter was 81 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Kathmandu, Nepal at a depth of 9.3 moles. The Meteorological Department stated that the epicenter of the earthquake was 745 km north-west of Bangladesh. Tremors were felt also across the region, in India, Tibet, China, Tibet and Pakistan (Prothom Alo; bdnews24.com; the Daily Star, April, 25; and CNN, April, 26).

Another Earthquake followed the earlier one as an aftershock at 13.08 on 26th April to hit Nepal with a magnitude of 6.7 along with Bangladesh and India (Prothom Alo; bdnews24.com; the Daily Star, April, 26; and CNN, April, 26).

Damage Information:

Bangladesh: In Bangladesh, total 5 people were killed and up to 100 people were injured while evacuating. One female was killed by collapse of wall made of mud along with other two women were killed in Pabna and Dhaka. One worker was killed along with 50 injuries in Savar. Another death toll occurred in Sunamganj. 50 readymade garment workers were injured at Ishwardi (Situation Report, DDM, April 25; Prothom, April, 26). 23 buildings were damaged in all over Bangladesh (Situation Report, DDM, and April, 25).

Earthquake, 25 April: Damage and loss in Bangladesh
Death Injury Structural Damage
4 persons died (1 inSavar, Dhaka; 1 in Bogra; 1 in Sunamganj; &1 in Pabna) § 10-12 workers injured atMission Group Garment

Factory in Savar

§ 2-3 workers injured at Kardena garment in Comilla

§ Five story building develops cracks in Bangla Bazar, Dhaka§ Six story building tilted in Nawabpur, Dhaka

§ Five story building tilted in Mirpur, Dhaka

§ Seven story building tilted in Keraniganj, Dhaka.

§ A hotel tilted in Baridhara , Dhaka

§ 2 commercial buildings tilted in Narayanganj

§ 1 garment factory tilted in Gazipur

§ 1 school damaged in Gopalganj

§ 10 story commercial building with cracks in Feni

§ A building with cracks in Nabiganj, Sylhet

§ A school tilted in Gangachara upazila, Rangpur

§ 2 schools damaged in Gaibandha

§ 2 buildings damaged in Rajshahi

§ 4 buildings tilted in Naogaon

§ Crack found at school in Sonatola, Bogra

Source: Disaster situation report, DDM, April, 25, 2015

Nepal: The 7.8 magnitude quake along with a strong aftershock of magnitude 6.6 followed by nearly three dozen other aftershocks struck an area of central Nepal between the capital, Kathmandu, and the city of Pokhara on Saturday morning (April 25, 2015). The Home Ministry identifies that more than 2263 people were killed and 4,718 people were injured (till 17.00, CNN, April 26) which mainly include only information of cities. The earthquake flattened homes, buildings and temples, causing widespread damage along with wrecking many historic buildings include the Dharahara tower, the landmark nine- story structure. Kathmandu airport was shut till 4 pm, Indigo, SpiceJet flights forced back after fresh tremors jolt Nepal (India today April, 26) Mobile phones, Electricity and other communications were disrupted. Around 6.6 million people are affected in Nepal according to the UN Office in Kathmundu (India today April, 26). The Government of Nepal declared the National Emergency. (ekantipur.com, April, 26)

Earthquake 1

Building tilted due to earthquake in Nepal

Earthquake 2   A man trapped under a building in Nepal

Government of Bangladesh provided 10 tons of reliefs including food (biscuit, water, and dry foods), medical (medicine) and humanitarian help (tent, blanket) along with a team of 34 members consisted of

6 groups of physicians and Bangladesh Air force crew (bdnews24.com, April, 26; Prothom Alo, April, 26).

The U.S. government is providing $1 million in immediate assistance to Nepal. Aid agencies expressed concern for the welfare of survivors in the coming days, as overnight temperatures were expected to drop and people were forced to make do without electricity, running water and shelter. (US Geological Survey, CNN, April, 26; BBC News, April 26 and Prothom Alo, April 25).

The UK has deployed a team of humanitarian experts to Nepal to provide urgent support. A number of

British charities are assembling disaster teams to join the rescue effort.

Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children, the British Red Cross and Plan International UK are assessing the humanitarian need in the disaster struck area.

India: Officials in India confirmed at least 52 deaths in three states from the Earthquake. (bdnews24.com, April, 26)

Tibet: At least 17 people were killed and 53 injured along with roads buckled and buildings collapse in

Tibet. (bdnews24.com, April, 26

Avalanches in Himalayan: Twenty two (22) people have killed along with 237 missing on Mount Everest by avalanches caused by the Earthquake, the mountain’s worst-ever disaster (BdNews.24.com, April, 26)

Reporting from: NIRAPAD Secretariat
4/16 (1st Floor), Humayun Road, Block-B
Mohammadpur, Dhaka-1207
Bangladesh

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Protecting Freedom of Expression in Bangladesh

Following is the English translation of the statement made by academics, writers, women’s rights, human rights and cultural activists, including freedom fighters, on December 18, 2014 regarding the conviction and sentencing of British journalist David Bergman by the International Crimes Tribunal-2, in Dhaka. The statement was published in Prothom Alo, the largest Bangla daily, the next day. One of the statement makers, Khushi Kabir, withdrew her name from the statement the following day.

 

On January 14, 2015, the Tribunal served notice on the 49 statement makers asking them to explain their statement: “Prima facie it appears that the core content of the ‘statement’ questions ‘transparency and openness’ of the judicial proceedings before the tribunal and also justification of the order sentencing a journalist [Bergman] for the act of scandalising the tribunal constituting the offence of contempt.”

 

Over the next two months, 26 statement makers tendered in writing their “unconditional apology” before the Tribunal. These were accepted as they “upgraded the majesty of the Tribunal” (Order No 11, dated 18.03.2015), and the 26 were exonerated from further proceedings.

 

The remaining 23, who had expressed their “regret” for any inadvertent impression the Tribunal may have received about it’s “authority and institutional dignity” having been belittled, have failed to satisfy the Tribunal as their explanation lacks “true remorse and repentance.” And, in the eyes of the Tribunal, they have, on the contrary, sought to “defend” their statement by citing the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution of Bangladesh.

 

The Tribunal has now decided (Order No. 12, dated 1.04.2015) to initiate contempt proceedings against Masud Khan (consultant), Afsan Chowdhury (liberation war researcher, university teacher), Ziaur Rahman (lawyer), Hana Shams Ahmed (writer, rights activist), professor Anu Muhammad (university teacher), Anusheh Anadil (singer, rights activist), Muktasree Chakma Sathi (rights activist), Lubna Marium (cultural activist, freedom fighter), Farida Akhter (women’s rights activist), Shireen Huq (women’s rights activist), Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury (public health activist, freedom fighter), Ali Ahmed Ziauddin (freedom fighter), Rahnuma Ahmed (writer), Dr. Shahidul Alam (photographer), Dr. C. R. Abrar (university teacher), Dr. Bina D’ Costa (peace and conflict analyst), Mahmud Rahman (writer), Dr. Zarina Nahar Kabir (university teacher), Leesa Gazi (cultural activist), Shabnam Nadiya (writer), Nasrin Siraj Annie (anthropologist and film-maker, Tibra Ali (physicist), and Dr. Delwar Hussain (anthropologist).

 

If found guilty they face a fine or imprisonment of up to 1 year. Continue reading

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Why the rise of fascism is again the issue

By John Pilger
johnpilger.com
26 February 2015

ukraine_obama_nobel.JPG

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism. Continue reading

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Tolerating Death in a Culture of Intolerance

Another blogger. Ananta Bijoy Das, murdered today. Police too busy beating up students to notice:

Anonto blogger killed with text ———————————————————————————————————-

Tolerating Death in a Culture of Intolerance | Economic and Political Weekly.

COMMENTARY Economic & Political Weekly EPW MARCH 21, 2015 vol l no 12 11 by Shahidul Alam

The daylight murder of Bangladeshi blogger Avijit Roy in Dhaka on 26 February reflects the culture of fear and intolerance that has built up in the country over the last few decades. As a result, the middle ground between the extremes has disappeared.

Returning home with your wife, from a book fair where you have been signing autographs, seems a peaceful enough activity. It was in the heart of the university area, and it was not late. The footpath next to Ramna Park, where the 1971 surrender document had been signed, was full of people. Shahbagh Police Thana was nearby, and a police barricade designed to keep visitors to the mela safe, was only a few yards away. Hardly the scene crime stories are made of.

Location of murder of Dr. Avijit Roy near Dhaka University Teachers Students Centre (TSC) roundabout. Photo: Shahidul Alam/Drik/Majority World Continue reading

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