the Trail of
the integrity of the image is constantly being undermined
by invasion of income-generating newsy or documentary photography,
Aalok group of photographers are determined to stay with
the tradition. The tradition that inspires making of images
that are independent of market demands. In short, it is
the creative stamp that they value most. Their shows are
proof of that.
has been instrumental in promoting photography as a form
of art. Although many photographers in Dhaka will cringe
at the thought of photography as art, with the members of
Aalok, it is an idea they feel dearly about. Yet it is not
mere affectation that these already established photographers
are striving for. Rather they nurture a belief in creating
image that can speak on behalf of the creator, and reveal
an aesthetic and objective intention independent of external
group of photographers came into its shape in 1995. The
group wanted to see the works of Bangladeshi photographers
working in variety of photographic fields getting their
dues in and outside the country. "To popularise photography
and to pave a link among photographers of the world was
and still is its aim," the man at the helm of things
Dr. Rashid Un Nabi reveals. It is Nabi who set the wheel
turning at the beginning, and he remains the chairman of
the group till this day. "Nabi Bhai wanted us to get
exposure in the outside world. It was him who was instrumental
in cultivating the links abroad," says Zakir Hossain,
one of the founding members of Aalok.
group started off with 12 photographers who had already
had a history of achievement. They banded to embolden their
presence in the larger map of the country and beyond. Nabi
came up with the magical solution to work together and combine
their efforts aiming to produce a greater impact. Trained
as a physician, Nabi picked up his camera back in 1985,
and has been continuing in both as a photographer and physician.
"He has been the man who got the highest number of
awards for photography," adds Zakir, who himself fetched
a number of awards at home and abroad. Aalok can boast of
having the most awarded photographers working in Dhaka under
their umbrella. The familiar names like Chandan , Kiron,
and Abir figures in their list.
after all these years, Aalok can boast of having organised
a number of international and national shows at home and
also having participated in a lot of important international
membership now stands at 16. And all of them are known for
their acumen; they are professionally renowned exponents
of photography. Most are even involved with other groups.
"There is no rule against being a member of other organisations
or groups. If the members carry out the duty that they are
suppose to render for the group, we have no problem,"
informs Zakir, who works for The Daily Star. In
fact besides being a member of Aalok most of them are involved
in regular jobs, many, like Nabi, are even pursuing other
professions alongside photography.
successful trail of activities that Aalok has left behind
is the proof that the members are active, and is determined
to pursue their aim. Aalok first sparked off with the Members'
Print Exhibition to promote sales of their works back in
1996. The following year saw the group organise a huge international
show of colour slides. One thousand slides were on display,
among which there were invited works from 30 countries.
The show travelled to Sylhet, Chittagong and even the much-neglected
Naraynganj, which is almost a stone throw from Dhaka. "We
always want our shows to travel to other cities. We want
a break of the habit of Dhaka-centred practices," affirms
1997 there was a show where renowned photography clubs were
invited from India, Nepal and Pakistan. The Aalok group
of photographers are particular about getting approval for
their shows from their international brethren. In fact it
is the only group in Bangladesh, which is a member of Federation
of Asian photographic Art (FAPA).
the huge show that focused the region, the next couple of
years were spent exploring far-off terrains. The members
had couple of shows, one in Romania and the other in Malaysia.
1999, for the first time , Aalok organised a solo exhibition
of a reputed Japanese photographer. The computer art photography
of Toshiko Ozawa was one show that demonstrated the strength
of manipulated image. After this came the time to reassess
what progress has been made in the home front. Aalok's annual
photography show was a highlight of the year 2001.
group never lost sight of the power of image and its ability
to stretch the imagination. In 2002 they invited S R Mandal,
an Indian photographer with a reputation for exploring surreal
imagery. Mandal's montages that are results of darkroom
wizardry, enticed a lot of young aspirants. A workshop was
organised, where many were given the first hand knowledge
of Mandal-style montage making.
that, two of the members of Aalok headed towards Japan,
where their works were on display in Kyoto. And later in
Kyoto a show of all the members were held.
home Nabi regrets not being able to organise more shows,
especially of the members. "Sponsorship is a factor,
lack of which set us to organise the members' show every
two years," bemoans Nabi. But their aim remains etched
in their mind. "To popularise photograhy we involve
people from different fields in our events," Nabi's
remark reverberate the group's ethos.
most intersting feature of the group is that it posseses
an informal structure "to avoid the sorts of hostility
that often leads to disastrous disbanding of any group",
to quote Nabi.
Nabi at the helm of things as the chairman of group for
life, the members take terns in organising events. "This
year Abir and Sujan consecutively have been made the exhibition
chairman and secretary. As soon as the exhibition is over
their positions become invalid," says Zakir.
members' show also has an interesting feature. All the members
get to play the jury. In a juried show, where portfolios
of each participant containing a set of six photos on a
consistent theme are submitted, no external jury members
are invited. "We appraise our own work. When stuck,
the last resort is to go for ballot," reveals Zakir.
members' show kicked off on February 24, and it will last
till the 29th of this month. Abir Abdullah was the award
winner for 2001, and Shafiqul Alam Kiron for 2002.
is a group that endeavours to put together the best yields
from Bangladesh. It only initiates new members when there
is a consensus among the existing members. It is a platform
that facilitates many activities centred on promotion of
photography, yet in respect of membership it remains an
exclusive turf that only gives space to the dedicated.