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Linking Young Minds Together
Volume 5 | Issue 46 | July 17, 2011 |


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Of Expressions and
Endeavours: 7th IIUPE 2011

Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

The Irish philosopher Edmund Burke once said, “There is a boundary to men's passion when they act from feelings; but none when they are under the influence of imagination.” Truly, as one walked across Drik Gallery, awestruck and captivated by the many large prints and creative sparks on the walls, Burke's words seemed to echo across the space. The 7th International Inter University Photography Exhibition (IIUPE) was bigger, better and more mature than ever and this can only be a reflection of years of continued efforts and vision towards art.

The guests at IIUPE 2011. Photo credit: Gazi Nibras

IIUPE began in 2003 as a modest endeavour to showcase young and aspiring photographers under the banner of North South University Photography Club (NSUPC). Although initially, there were only two international and nine national universities, over the years, IIUPE has grown both in terms of outreach and capacity. Organised for the seventh time this year, it has broken past records and has encompassed the works of 152 photographers representing 46 different universities from 15 countries across the globe. These exciting numbers not only speak volumes about the impact of the endeavour amongst young photographers, both locally and globally, but also indicate how photography in the modern era has developed as a popular culture and continued growing.

'Shame' won 1st Prize under Portrait (Color). courtesy: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

“Photography, for me is a medium of expression through the lens,” explains Tahsin ul Majid, President of North South University Photography Club. “Through IIUPE, we have always tried to provide a platform for young photographers to create their paintings of light, and this year was no different. We have focused on the quality of work, and therefore, out of 5500 single entries into the competition, only the best 239 single photographs made it to the exhibition.”

Indeed, IIUPE 2011 comprised of 239 single entries and 8 photo stories, of which 37 received awards under several categories (broad categories being Color and Black-and-White, each divided into 8 sub-categories) at the end of a competitive judging process. The eight categories included action, portrait, life, architecture, nature, still life, landscape and photo story. The jury panel this year was graced by eminent photographers, namely Andrew Biraj, Munem Wasif and Shafiqul Alam Kiron.

Unarguably, the momentous process of selection was well paid off. The exhibited photographs were fascinating, took the shape of a million voices and underlying stories, and more importantly, exuded the genuine passion and imagination of today's young artists. For many, IIUPE has stood as a strong platform for being recognised in the field of photography. The photographs well deserved the spotlight.

“I have always dreamed that my photographs will be displayed at IIUPE,” remarked Javed Miandad, a quietly creative youngster of Bangladesh University of Science and Technology (BUET). His photograph, titled The Last Goodbye was awarded 3rd Prize under Life (Color). “I was speechless when I realised I had won an award. I had never thought this day would come and it inspires me to pursue photography with more sincerity and hard work.”

Charak Puja: The winning photo story.
courtesy: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

Shucheta Shegufta, a regular Flickrite enjoys working with conceptual and unorthodox approaches to storytelling. Her photograph, titled Shame won 1st Prize under Portrait (Color). A rather unusual and engaging piece, Shame has wrapped around the threads of social norms, the hypocritical practice of empowering the weak, the zeal to defy all and a reason to dream in a single poetic composition.

“I personally don't think there are any winners in photography, or any other art form for that matter. That being said, I also feel that exhibitions and competitions like IIUPE are important for young photographers, because they give us a chance to showcase our work, to explore and expand,” explained a thoughtful Shucheta Shegufta.

Aneek Mustafa Anwar, another BUET-ian in the league has been a regular participant at IIUPE. His friends know him as a 'miracle worker with the aged'. The very amicable Aneek boasts a fine collection of photographs for all the buras he has met, and has left a lasting smile on their faces.

“This is the second time I've been awarded at IIUPE, but I had never imagined winning anything in the portrait category. I was surprised and extremely happy when I heard the news,” said Aneek. His work titled With His Eye on the Sea is an engaging and thought provoking portrait of an old man, and scooped 2nd Prize under Portrait (Black-and-White).

“IIUPE has played a very significant role in representing our work and people on a global platform,” he added. “It has given us a chance to put our best works forward, compete with those like us from around the world and provided a powerful incentive for us to improve ourselves.”

This year's photo stories have left footprints in the minds of many viewers. Considered more challenging than single entries by many contemporary photographers, the selected collection of series truly proved the point. The efforts were obvious, and each thought leading to another played their part in adding meaning to the stories.

Darshan Chakma is a student from United International University. His photo story, Charak Puja: Devotee's Might is a powerful series depicting the religious festival of Charak Puja by the Hindus that is believed to eliminate the sorrows of previous years for a better tomorrow. Celebrated on the last day of the Bengali month of Chaitra, Darshan believes the festival is an intriguing reflection of man's acceptance towards penance to achieve salvation.

'With His Eye on the Sea' won 2nd Prize under Portrait (Black & White). courtesy: Sabhanaz Rashid Diya

“I have built this story over a long period and consider it an important addition to my work,” elaborated Darshan. The series has scooped 3rd Prize under the Photo Story category. “I was really excited when I heard that I had won. IIUPE, in my opinion, has played a key role in keeping the trend of photography unchanged and to its roots, and I am extremely impressed by the selection of photographs this year.”

A photography enthusiast, 16-year old Arissa enjoys exhibitions immensely. Although this is her first time at an IIUPE, she believes this endeavour will leave a strong impression on her mind. “I love taking pictures and I feel really thrilled and optimistic to see people only a few years older than me creating such amazing artwork. It inspires me to hold on to my dreams and learn photography!”

Arissa's feelings seemed to be a common experience for every viewer to have come across IIUPE 2011. The fact that such an amazing body of work has been produced by university students from around the globe itself is an achievement. This year's IIUPE has been actively participated by young photographers from Australia, China, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Nepal, Panama, Poland, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, United Kingdom and Bangladesh. As host country, the organisers in Bangladesh can take great pride in pulling it off with such brilliant success.

“IIUPE is a dream coming true,” shares Sydusjaman Symon, Vice President at North South University Photography Club. “For us and for many, it is a place to recognise the talent and spirit of youth globally.”

IIUPE 2011 was inaugurated by the Pro Vice Chancellor of North South University, Dr Khairul Bashar on July 8. Ali Zaker, renowned actor and director also graced the ceremony. IIUPE was open for all everyday from July 8-14 at Drik Gallery, and will be open for all from July 15-22 at National Art Gallery in Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.

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