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Transforming society through creativity

  • Published at 01:05 pm December 20th, 2018
wt-Dec 18, 2018
Photos : Courtesy

Drik and Goethe Institut organize photography exhibition by German artist Sabrina Asche in Dhaka

Drik in partnership with Goethe Institut Dhaka, recently organized ‘Flipside. Made in Bangladesh’, a photography exhibition by German artist Sabrina Asche. The exhibition is an outcome of a four-week long photography workshop held in February this year. 

In February 2018, artist Sabrina Asche, with the support of the Goethe Institut Dhaka, BFF Photo Award and Olympus, organized a four-week long participatory photography workshop. Eight Bangladeshi women working in Dhaka’s garment and textile industry participated in this workshop - Bobita Akhter, Mahfuja Akter, Mina Begum, Rukaiya Sultana, Shapla Akter, Shipra Gayen, Tania Aktar and Tanjila Akter Surma - where they learned photography, and documented their daily lives following a collective process of sharing, discussing and reflecting on their images. By acquiring basic photographic skills, they documented their daily lives and these fragments are genuine and unique insights into their lives. An integral part of the participatory methods was their motivation to write their reflective thoughts on the flip-side of their photographs. Our perception of subjective realities can be questioned regarding cross-cultural differences. These written voices, which shaped the work and exhibition, were fundamental in the workshop process.

The exhibition contained eight walls representing the lives of these eight women. Each wall consisted of 25 cards; on one side of each card was a description of the photograph, hand-written by the women and on the other side was the photograph that had been clicked. One was invited to “flip” the images to continue this dialogue and participate in a constant transition of the work in this space.

Their photographs and handwritten notes, as a means of communicating invited people to perceive the world more holistically. Out of the 3,000 pictures taken by the participants, Sabrina Asche curated eight individual portraits. The results presented in the context of a participatory exhibition, were intended to encourage the dialogue of the workshop to continue. 

“Everyone has a different interpretation of art - when we look at something, we relate to it in different senses,” explained Sabrina. “ This exhibition brings out the interpretations of the photographs as written by the hard-working garment workers and is a true peek into their daily lives.” The event was inaugurated on December 10 at Drik Gallery, Dhanmondi, and it continued till December 19.

Honourable Ambassador, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, H E Peter Fahrenholtz and eminent Human Rights Activist Khushi Kabir were present at the inauguration ceremony. 

In his speech, H E Peter Fahrenholtz said “I am glad that this exhibition is taking place on the United Nations International Human Rights Day. Human rights is basically about dignity. Dignity of people from all walks of life. This exhibition is about the workers from the garment and textile sector of Bangladesh – which is very important in this country. Thanks to all the workers, who participated with photographs on their lives.” 

“The garment workers are different individuals – having their own dreams, desires and aspirations. Those of us, who work for human rights, to us it is not about statistics, but every individuals’ right to express themselves, building up their lives as they want to – that is actually a human being’s right. Here, when you flip through the images, you can see their dreams, feelings and desires to be who they want to be. I congratulate these women, who have successfully proved that people can express themselves in any they want to. Furthermore, I congratulate Sabrina, Goethe and Drik for such a wonderful initiative,” commented Khushi Kabir.

About the artist

Asche means ‘to arrive’ in Bangla.

Sabrina Asche is a German artist based in both Leipzig and Dhaka since 2014. Weaving the threads of globalization, women employment, and textiles, her works are a tapestry of objects, performances, and photographic images that stitch together both the conceptual and the documentative. 

Cross-cultural differences have come to define her art, and fittingly, profile the female role in Bangladesh’s burgeoning garment industry. There is a sense of visual dialogue in her pieces, and the constant exchange between identification and confrontation in her work, allows the questioning of reality against societal consensus.