Pathshala South Asian Media Institute celebrated World Photography Day on August 19, 2016, with a full day event at it's premise at Sukrabad, in Dhaka.
The pioneering media organisation and education institute wanted to make World Photography Day all about celebrating photography, by including photographers of all expertise level and persuasion. Amateurs, hobbyists, and professional photographers met with each others and shared their common love for photography during the day long programme.
A portfolio review session for the amateur photography students was held from 11am to 1pm. There was also a series of presentations by six female Pathshala graduates who showcased their personal body of work. The portfolio review session was conducted by Tanvir Murad Topu, the Head of Photography Department at Pathshala; and Ashraful Awal Mishuk, a Pathshala faculty member.
Homayra Adiba, Habiba Nowrose, Sadia Marium, Mahmuda tuli, Rajoyana Chowdhury Xenia and Aungmakhai Chak, the six women alumni of Pathshala, held presentations and provided intriguing insights into their philosophy and perspectives on the art of photography.
One of the female alumni Sadia Marium, who spent time at Monomita Mental Hospital wrote about her experience there. “Day or night, no one in this room could tell the difference. Shameless tube lights are glimmering over our head. I lost the track of time. It feels I (was) born here, in this white room. They cut the umbilical cord connected to my mother, my mom got free and I broke all the bonds. There is no life outside this room, no faces to live for, nothing to love,” reads an excerpt from her diary.
Habiba Nowrose's work focused on issues and perceptions related to our outward appeareances and how our images shape us instead of us creating what we want to project. “We lose ourselves in that created reality. We become anonymous even to ourselves. Our true identity remains concealed,” said Nowrose.
Rajoyana Chowdhury Xenia is interested on exploring the nature of connections we feel with the world around us. “I felt your touch, I felt your blood. I’ve seen you from my windscreen and in my dreamland,” Xenia said about the elusive character of reality and nature.
Aungmakhai Chak's photo story portrays her indigenous identity in the changing world. “As an indigenous person I believe that I am a part of nature. I have tried to assemble the photographs in a way that prevails my sense of belonging to nature and how I relate myself to nature,” Chak said.
Mahmuda Tuli explores the anxieties of modern life that is haunted by the “monsters made of metal and cement.”
Homayra Adiba's work titled 'Where Blue Birds Fly' is about rooftops in Dhaka city. The solitude of rooftops in the busy metropolis attracts Adiba. Rooftops are places that are “as secret as (they are) open,” Adiba said.
Along with these presentations a unique exhibition was also organised on the day. Titled simply '19,' it showcased photographs and installation works by six Pathshala students who are graduating from the Professional photography program, the class of 2016. These works collectively deal with the idea of family, home, alienation, anxiety and re-experience. To create these bodies of works, the participants were open to use photographs, moving images, sounds, and archive materials.This exhibition is a result of six months of research and works, conducted and curated by Sarker Protick. The participants were M Hasan Tareque, Nayeem Tushar, Taufiqur Rahman Anik, Nasirul Islam, Minhaz Marzu and Tushar Shahidur Rahman. “We never felt encumbered by our course here, even though it was very demanding,” said Taufiqur Rahman Anik, one of the six graduates. A dentist by profession Anik took up photography because of his passion for this art form. “Sometimes we would spend 8 or 9 hours with our teachers outside of class time because we just wanted to be around our teachers. Their depth of knowledge and understanding intrigued us so much,” Nasirul Islam said about his experience during the course at Pathshala. Anik and Nasirul are both immensely influenced by their teachers at Pathshala, many of whom are internationally acclaimed photographers. Other than their teachers they found inspiration in the works of Jeff Wall, Robert Cuppa, Josef Koudelka, and Diane Arbus among many others.