Munem Wasif


Munem Wasif began his career as a feature photographer for The Daily Star, after graduating from Pathshala.

A photo from Wasif's “Blood Splinter of Jute”.

A documentary photographer who has been represented by Agence Vu since 2008, his photographs have been published in Le Monde 2, the Sunday Times Magazine, the Guardian, Politiken, Io Donna, Mare, Du, Days Japan, L'espresso, Libération, Courier International, Photo, British Journal of Photography, Lens Culture, Photo District News and Zonezero.

Wasif was selected for the World Press Photo Joop Swart Masterclass in 2007. In 2008, he won the City of Perpignan Young Reporter's Award at Visa pour l'image. The following year, he was awarded the Prixpictet commission for his work on water crisis in the northwest region of Bangladesh.

His work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the Musee de Elysee, and the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland, the International Photography Biennial of the Islamic World in Iran, Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan, the Kunsthal Museum and the Noordelight Festival in the Netherlands, Angkor Photo Festival in Cambodia, London's Whitechapel Gallery, Palais de Tokyo, Visa pour l'image in France and at Chobi Mela, Bangladesh.

Wasif is now teaching documentary photography at Pathshala South Asian Media Academy.

Compiled by Star A&E Correspondent

Nazia Andaleeb Preema
Visual Artist & Creative Consultant

"I believe art has no confirmation, rather it deals with possibilities. But it has unlimited possibilities to rise further.”

This quote succinctly represents the ideology of one of the most prolific visual artists in Bangladesh, Nazia Andaleeb Preema, who has expanded her horizon from the traditional canvas, pastels and acrylics into other exciting mediums such as digital art, live performances, to written monologues and texts.

In our society where everyone aspires to follow someone else's footsteps, it is never an easy task to become an “individual”. But for Preema, it has been a unique journey from the very beginning of her career. She is continually trying to break free from the traditional dogma of being just an artist and has expanded her portfolio by becoming one of the leading freelance consultants in web architecture, web design, graphic design and electronic art over the last 14 years. Diversity is her forte: from traditional to digital, digital to installation, installation to performance, performance to video, and video to dialogue -- all these art forms have played significant roles in moulding her into a consummate artist.

Video still from “Marry My Egg”.

Preema truly believes that “art has no limits”; she has immersed herself in various projects, which deal with innovation. She has expanded her portfolio into the field of corporate branding and additionally provides consultative support through her activities as the advisor and creative editor of various national news agencies and other institutions. She is an inspiration to the young and reaches out to them through her motivational lectures at various universities throughout the country.

As a full-time artist, Preema has had the opportunity to travel all over the world and received a number of international grants for art residencies and workshops. She has participated in over fifty prestigious group expositions around the world, including five Asian Art Biennale, Istanbul Biennale, international art expos and has to her credit 14 successful solo exhibitions at home and abroad. Preema is a pioneer within her field for presenting the first virtual exhibition in the country via in 2003. She is currently developing her career through her activities as a curator of international exhibitions and taking the contemporary art of Bangladesh to a global platform through the initiative, Bangladesh Art Forum. She has successfully curated four exclusive exhibitions between 2010 and 2011 at Asia House (UK), Foundation de Alliance Francaise (Paris), Cite International des Arts (Paris), SaffornArt (New York).

Through her art, Preema emphasises the freedom of choice. Her creations, “Marry My Egg”, “Monajat” and “Stare continues” try to illustrate the point of art as a medium of interaction and influence, through their theme of creating social awareness about the trials and tribulations of the Bengali Muslim woman.


Ivan Ahammed Katha
Cultural activist

Ivan Ahammed Katha is a transgender individual who has dedicated herself to bring changes in a very transphobic society. She tells stories of the collective resistance and struggles of the hijra community through her songs, dance and street plays and works effortlessly to generate awareness.

Amidst hostility against transgender people, Katha runs the organisation 'Sachetan Shilpi Shangha' (SSS). The slogan of this organisation is “Amar shongskriti, amar odhikar” (my culture, my rights). Katha provides psychological and health counseling to transgender individuals in her community. She lives in Manda and attends to the issues and concerns of vulnerable groups such as sex workers. She identifies herself as a woman, and has been actively involved in cultural activities to generate public awareness on the hijra community. She has won several prizes at international and national level dance competitions.

Katha and her troupe perform on World Dance Day. Photo: Mumit M

SSS was born out of oppression. Katha and her friends were sexually abused by some young students and law enforcement officers one night in 1999 while they were returning from a wedding performance. The unnerving violence that Katha faced, which could not be brought to justice, made her realise that like her, many other hijras are facing abuse. She wanted to do something for them.

Katha and the members from her cultural group stage street plays and musicals for the masses at busy areas and marketplaces in Dhaka to address audiences belonging to the lower socio-economic class, like rickshaw pullers, truck drivers, shop keepers, bus conductors etc. By addressing these people, Katha and her group try to dispel stereotypes about transgender people and work to reduce the daily harassment and abuse that emerge from these men.

She writes her own plays and has been meaning to draw a more educated audience, for which she wants to hold campaigns at colleges and universities. Katha and her group perform on Women's Day, Sex Workers' Day, AIDS Day and Human Rights Day. Last year on September 15, her group performed at Shilpakala Academy, where the members recited, danced and staged a short play. She strongly opposes several norms in the hijra community like the ritualistic castration and use of hormones.

Katha graduated from high school as a man in 1991, while most hijras study till the second or third grade only. She had identified herself as a politically aware individual by the time she had completed her HSC, for which she left home. Katha is admirably optimistic. That does not make her a dreamer, but practical, because she is working relentlessly for a better future.

By Saad Adnan Khan