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     Volume 8 Issue 54 | January 24, 2009 |

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Focus on Freedom

Fayza Haq

There is a lot more to the ongoing Chobi Mela (from January 30 to February 20) than just an exhibition of spectacular photographs from all over the world. For Bangladesh says Dr Shahidul Alam, photographer and Managing Director of Drik, which organises Chobi Mela, there are two reasons why this is important. "One, Bangladesh has a very negative image of her own," he says. "It is necessary to change this. It is something we need to be proud of. It is something that needs to be internationally recognised." Chobi Mela, he says, showcases powerful photography of what is happening in Bangladesh. It also provides Bangladeshis an opportunity to see great international and regional work. It contains a diverse range of work and quality of work. Chobi Mela is largely a showcase of work being produced within the region . It also provides opportunity for interaction by visiting artists and local photographers, says Dr. Alam.

MetaSaoPaulo, Carlos Cazalis, Mexico
Roadblocks, Eddie Gerald, Israel

The broad theme, he says, is freedom. "Freedom is being chosen because it can be interpreted very widely by artists. In terms of genre of photography we have the whole spectrum of fine art photography, conceptual photography and journalistic photography," says Dr. Shahidul Alam. Within each of these spheres, he says, photographers have been very inhibitive about the type of work they have chosen to show. There are 63 exhibitions and some of the more interesting ones include the one on Nelson Mandela. This is an installation which includes audio, video, artefacts and photographs looking at the historical evolution in his life and struggle. It also recreates the jail cell that he was in. The audience will get a rounded feeling of what this man experienced though his lifetime. The one by Marcelo Bronsky from Argentina is very different. It looks at memories and memorabilia; it traces his own history and that of his brother, who disappeared when the military took him. He looks at people's struggle against military oppression and he looks at how people have mobilised and rallied and retained those memories. Both are installation based works, says Dr Shahidul Alam.

Khaled Hasan, Bangladesh



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