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.
Taslima Akhter. Savar Dhaka, Bangladesh. April 24, 2013.
April 24, 2013, still remains fresh in my memory. At 9 AM when I got the news, I rushed to Rana Plaza. That morning I did not understand what a brutal thing had happened, but within hours I grasped the enormity and horror of it. The day passed with many people helping survivors and taking photos. At midnight there were still many people. I saw the frightened eyes of the relatives. Some were crying. Some were looking for their loved ones. Continue reading →
In the 40-odd years that America and the Soviet Union faced off in the cold war, the people who presumed to run the world started with the knowledge that it was too dangerous, and possibly even suicidal, to attack one another. But the struggle was fierce, and what that meant in practice was that the competition played out in impoverished places like Cuba and Angola, where the great statesmen vied, eyed and subverted one another, and sometimes loosed their local proxies, all in the name of maintaining the slippery but all-important concept known as the balance of power.
The peace held, of course — that is, the larger peace. The United States and the Soviet Union never came to blows, and the nuclear-tipped missiles never left their silos. For the third world, where the competition unfolded, it was another matter entirely. The wreckage spread far and wide, in toppled governments, loathsome dictators, squalid little wars and, here and there, massacres so immense that entire populations were nearly destroyed. Continue reading →
The view to the tony residential neighborhood, Gulshan, photographed from the Korail slum. Photo: Mohammad Tauheed. See also Tauheed’s gallery of photos of Dhaka.You could, on first glance, see Dhaka as a fast and loose place, the kind of city that draws people in, churns them around and spits them out after a few tough years. Many in Dhaka face circumstances similar to those in other South Asian cities: poverty, limited education, exploitation. Dhaka itself sits at or near the bottom of rankings of the world’s cities — not a happy picture. Perhaps you read about Dhaka recently because of the political unrest roiling Bangladesh now (the latest national strike was called on November 26, and the capital city often bears the brunt of any political unrest). Or perhaps it was because of the collapse of a garment factory on the outskirts of the city in April 2013, which killed more than 1,000 people, a disaster that shone light on political and civic failings in the city.
Yet that headline-driven sketch of the Bangladeshi capital is, of course, incomplete. For a more nuanced picture, you need to talk with someone like the architect, university lecturer and photographer Nurur Rahman Khan, a born and bred “Dhakaite.” As far as he’s concerned, the city may have issues, but the title is an honor. Continue reading →
My research for the curatorial presentation at the Angkor Wat festival led me to many interesting bodies of work. I had help from several areas. The photographers themselves, particularly Pedro Meyer, Frad Baldwin and Wendy Watriss of Fotofest, were many amongst them. Francoise Callier helped by giving me unfettered freedom in choice and format. It was hard work, but I was enjoying it. As always, there was work I couldn’t include into a 90 minute presentation. I decided to continue the work. Here is some of the work that didn’t make it to the show. Not because the work wasn’t good enough, but because it didn’t quite fit. Enjoy:
Moscow-based photographer Alexander Khokhlov and makeup artist Valeriya Kutsan have created a bewitching series of portraits that play with the natural lines of their models’ faces and twist them into strange new forms.
Their newest series of stunning colored portraits, 2D Or Not 2D, is only the latest collaboration between the two artists. Khokhlov and Kutsan have also created portrait series with powerful black-and-white designs and a series parodying the popular Angry Birds game. The designs are amazing – some of them soften or break down the face’s lines, while others reinforce them or create unnaturally perfect patterns. Continue reading →
A boatload of refugees making the 200-mile journey to Christmas Island.
THE DREAM BOAT
By LUKE MOGELSONMore than a thousand refugees have died trying to reach Christmas Island. But faced with unbearable conditions at home, they keep coming.Photographs by
JOEL VAN HOUDT
BY LUKE MOGELSON
PHOTOGRAPHS BY JOEL VAN HOUDT
November 15, 2013
It’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive, normally, from Indonesia’s capital city, Jakarta, to the southern coast of Java. In one of the many trucks that make the trip each month, loaded with asylum seekers from the Middle East and Central Asia, it takes a little longer. From the bed of the truck, the view is limited to a night sky punctuated by fleeting glimpses of high-rise buildings, overpasses, traffic signs and tollbooths. It is difficult to make out, among the human cargo, much more than the vague shapes of bodies, the floating tips of cigarettes. When you pass beneath a street lamp, though, or an illuminated billboard, the faces thrown into relief are all alive with expectation. Eventually, the urban pulse subsides; the commotion of the freeway fades. The drooping wires give way to darkly looming palms. You begin to notice birds, and you can smell the sea. Continue reading →
Was asked one day if I thought of murdering my curls,
If I wanted ‘em straight and artificial,like most other girls..
Horrified as I was I wondered why I loved them so
Then I realized my curls were me.
How? I’m sure you would like to know.
Stubborn, uptight, impossible to control
Its got moods, attitudes with which no one knows what to do.
It bends sometimes under pressure and strain
But can be messy, really frizzy, a total pain.
It goes wild sometimes or relaxes subdued.
Or will just not do anything, like it’s in some frightful mood.
Hates others messing with it, yet loves a ‘lil praise.
Can look calm, cool and collected yet can burst into craze
My curls are me! My exact personality
Advice all you need, these curls are mine for keeps
You can call me vain but I’ll always love ‘em heaps.
Left: Still photo from a video of the May 15 protest at Children’s Place. Right: Photo from @snufftastic Twitter account.Rumors have flown for many years that DC police routinely infiltrate and spy on the frequent protests in the nation’s Capitol. But until now, activists have never been able to identify a specific undercover cop at a protest. Now, after months of piecing together evidence, attorneys Jeffrey Light and Sean Canavan working with United Students Against Sweatshop (USAS) have confirmed that under an assumed name, Metro police officer Nicole Rizzi has participated in USAS protests against companies doing business in Bangladesh who refuse to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh following the death of as many as 1,129 workers in the Rana Plaza factory collapse. Continue reading →
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Our Positive Light book has reached tipping point, but the campaign continues at: bangladesh.crowdsourced.travel/