Chobi Mela VI: Dreams

Photo: Karen Knorr

Photo: Karen Knorr

Review of Activities – Chobi Mela VI 2011

Theme: Dreams

Festival opening: 4pm, 21 January, 2011 at National Theatre Auditorium, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy

Exhibition Venues: Alliance Française de Dhaka, Asiatic Gallery of Fine Arts, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, British Council, Dhaka Art Center, Drik and Goethe-Institut.

Festival duration: 2 weeks (21 January-3 February 2011)

Evening presentation: 1 week (21-27 January 2011), Goethe-Institut Auditorium

The festival featured:

  • 29 Solo Print Exhibitions
  • 31 Digital presentations
  • 9 Workshops
  • 1 Portfolio review
  • Discussions/Seminars/Lectures
  • Presentations by Picture Libraries/Agencies
  • Review of image-related publications
  • Publication ceremony
  • Film screenings
  • Video conferences

Participating countries: 23

Partners: Alliance Française de Dhaka, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bangla Trac, Beximco Group, British Council, Drik, Goethe-Institut and Pathshala.

  • Chobi Mela VI, built on previous five exhibitions held and provided a vital meeting ground for regional artists and academics. The exposure in this international arena provided the platform for many Bangladeshi photographers to show their work to an international audience as and in some instances win awards for their work. The Mexican photographer Carlos Cazalis went on to win a World Press Photo award for the work entered in the festival. Camille Zakaria became a finalist for the prestigious Jameel Award. Rashid Talukder was awarded the first “Pioneer Photographer Award” given by the National Geographic Society.
  • Chobi Mela has inspired other Asian countries like China, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia to hold festivals,some with active assistance from the Chobi Mela team. Singapore held its first festival in October 2008 while Malaysia held its first festival in 2007.
  • Networking opportunities at Chobi Mela has led artists from Australia, China, India Malaysia, Denmark, Philippines and the UK, to develop professional and academic ties and connections to exchange ideas.
  • The festival’s outreach programme focused on bringing the work to the attention of a wider public by exhibiting in non-conventional places, using mobile exhibitions and by active participation of the mass media. It has promoted visual literacy to create a platform for expression for people with low levels of textual literacy.
  • Selected exhibitions have toured some countries in the region.
  • Over the years the festival has recognised the work of outstanding individuals in the majority world through Lifetime Achievement awards. Besides recognising major Bangladeshi photographers, Golam Kasem Daddy, Manzoor Alam Beg, Amanul Huq, Shamsul Islam Al Maji and Rashid Talukder, the award has also been given to the legendary South African photographer Peter Magubane and the doyen of photography in Mozambique, Ricardo Rangel, and Pedro Meyer of Mexico.
  • The festival also offerscholarships to rural students giving them an opportunity to study at Pathshala, the educational wing of the Drik Picture Library Ltd. Seven full and five half scholarships have been awarded to students at Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute (

3.2 Media response

Media partnerships: For Chobi Mela VI, the media sponsorship from Radio Today,, Channel i, Daily Samakal, and The Independent resulted in huge media advertising. Talk shows, features and reviews in newspapers, television and radio, generated a similar amount, through reporting in news and cultural programmes. Earlier the festival was toured to Nepal where it also received unprecedented media coverage.

International coverage: Print and electronic media and photographic magazines ranging from Australia and Japan through to the United States, gave wide coverage to the festival, recognising Drik Photo Library and Bangladesh as a centre of excellence in photography. The Chobi Mela catalogue was distributed to leading photographic institutions worldwide and major museums and libraries.

The Japanese TV channel NHK as a result produced a special programme on photography in Bangladesh, which was aired in October 2010, prior to Chobi Mela VI.

Photographers – Exhibitions

  • Laurence Leblanc / “Can All Dreams be Found Somewhere Else?”

  • Erin Quinn / Dreaming

  • Bronek Kozka / Suburbia: The Australian Dream

  • Kelly Hussey-Smith / Caged

  • Sayed Asif Mahmud / My City of Unheard Prayers

  • Mariam Amurvelashvili / Khevsureti (The Lost Paradise)

  • Amit Mehra / Timeless India

  • Rony Zakaria / Diamond Dreams

  • Ali Akbar Shirjian / Open Ending of a Long Story

  • Kosuke Okahara / Any Given Day – Living for the Moment in Medellin’s New Drug War

  • Carlos Cazalis / The Gift

  • Mario Macilau / The Zionist (The Zionist Church Movement in Mozambique)

  • Morten Krogvold/ Encounters

  • Asim Rafiqui / The Inconsolable

  • Jovian Lim / The Voyage to the Ends of the World

  • Aitor Lara / Maestranza

  • Dominic Sansoni / Space for Imagination

  • Onur Coban / Blinded Dreams in Darfur

  • Gareth Phillips / Existence

  • Joanna Petrie / The Girl who Fell to Earth

  • Debasish Shom / Dhaka: My Dreams, My Reality

  • Munem Wasif / Salt Water Tears

  • David de Souza / Dreams

  • David Burnett / 44 Days – Iran and the Remaking of the World

  • Stephan Rabold / A Dream of Venice

  • Tamas Dezso / Here Anywhere

  • Karen Knorr / India Song