Chobi Mela VII: Fragility

Photo: Sandra Vitaljic

Photo: Sandra Vitaljic

Festival opening: 25 January, 2013, venue to be announced shortly 

Exhibition Venues: Alliance Française de Dhaka, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bengal Gallery, Chobir Haat, Dhaka Art Center, Drik Gallery, Lichutola-Dhaka University,.

Festival duration: 2 weeks (25 January-7 February 2013)

Evening presentations: 1 week (25 January – 1 February 2013), venue Goethe-Institut

The festival will feature:

34 Solo Print Exhibitions

Digital presentations


Portfolio review


Presentations by Picture Libraries/Agencies

Review of image-related publications/Book launches

Publication ceremony

Film screenings

Video conferences

Lifetime Achievement award

Participating countries: 24

2.1 Selected Artists for Chobi Mela VII

Name of Artist & Country

Anastasia Taylor-Lind - Sweden/UK

B.S. Shivaraju (Cop Shiva) - India

Eiffel Chong - Malaysia

Eivind H. Natvig - Norway

Eugene Richards - USA

Gaël Turine - Belgium

Gideon Mendel - UK

Graciela Iturbide - Mexico

Hossein Fatemi - Iran

Ilaria Di Biagio - Italy

J. D. Okhai Ojeikere - Nigeria

Laura El-Tantawy - Egypt/UK

Leandro Viana de Paula - Brazil

Lu Guang - China

Maika Elan - Vietnam

Maimouna Guerresi - Italy

Mateusz Sarello - Poland

Max Pam - Australia

Mohammad Anisul Hoque - Bangladesh

Muge - China

Pablo Bartholomew - India

Rafiqul Shuvo - Bangladesh

Rasel Chowdhury - Bangladesh

Richard Bartholomew - India

Saiful Huq Omi - Bangladesh

Samsul Alam Helal - Bangladesh

Sandra Vitaljić - Croatia

Saori Ninomiya - Japan

Sarker Protick - Bangladesh

Shumon Ahmed - Bangladesh

Walter Astrada - Spain

Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh and Rozenn Quéré - France and Lebanon

Zhang Hai - China

Ziyah Gafić - Bosnia

Workshops @ Chobi Mela VII

Workshop conductors:

Jodi Bieber

Jody Haines

Chris Rainier and Chris Riley

Christopher Pinney 

Deepak John Mathew

Morten Krogvold

Malcolm Hutcheson

Gaël Turine

Artist’s Talks @ Chobi Mela VII

Graciela Iturbide

Morten Krogvold

Nasir Ali Mamun

Pablo Bartholomew

Richard Billingham

Max Pam

Jodi Bieber

Slide Show Presenters @ Chobi Mela VII

Jody Haines on Australian photography

Nii Obodai and Bisi Silva on African photography

Françoise Callier on South East Asian photography

Munem Wasif on Bangladeshi photography

Hester Keijser  on Middle Eastern photography

Discussion Session participants

Pablo Bartholomew

Nayantara Gurung Kakshapati

Shahidul Alam

Chris Rainier and Chris Riley

Robert Pledge

Dick Doughty

Ruth Eichhorn

Partners: Alliance Française de Dhaka, American Center, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, Bengal Gallery, Drik, Dhaka Art Center, Goethe-Institut and Pathshala.

 The Theme: Fragility

The sweeping gestures of photography have thrived on extremes. Great things, epic moments, the wretched, the vile, the dispossessed, the celebrated and the trodden, have all found themselves facing the lens. Photography has exalted suffering, celebrated the vain. Quiet moments, reflective spirits, the hesitant step, the furtive glance have rarely made headlines. Perceived as being unworthy of the shutter.

The shutter speed of 125th of a second reserved for momentous slices of time, never slows down enough to listen to the size of the silent. Photography therefore is a selective witness. The history it records, a filtered history. It is a filtration different from the dominant narrative of the victor that history has been guilty of. This is more insidious, as it seeps into the very core of our consciousness. I smile for my grandma’s camera. The photojournalist waits for my tear to drop. The moments in between go unrecorded. A staccato history of grand gestures and seminal moments fails to record the nuanced lives we all live.

The medium has been digital all along. The black and whites of photography has largely failed to register the grey ambiguities of the human panorama, the binary perceptions that shape photographic vision failing to respond to subtlety. The everydayness of our lives with its tapestry of emotions, too plain to register amongst the dramatic peaks and troughs that photography has been measured by.

It is only through fissure that fragility has registered. It is only on being trampled that the delicate has been lamented. The staunch pillars of photography have rarely let light through the cracks. The frailty of a lost thought, the uncertainty of the first touch is the insignificance that a camera passes by. The fragility of a tortured earth, the slow death of a glacier, the disappearance of the honeybee, too slow a change to register in 125th of a second.

In a gendered world fragility is not macho enough. In a misogynist industry, to pause is to be effeminate. Where sex and violence are the opiates we are fed on, quieter moments do not even make the ‘B roll’. A sob too insignificant to register on a megapixel sensor.

We look for those fleeting moments. A gossamer of gentle thoughts billowing in turbulent winds. An unravelling strand of humanity bending against the onslaught of invasive culture. The frail existence of a marginal farmer eking out a living in the shadows of engineered genes. Communities holding out against the rising tide of modernity. Lost languages, vanishing cultures, disappearing forests, all entwined by a vulnerability, familiar to those who resist market forces.

In an economy gasping for breath, in an ecosystem reeling under consumption, waste and the ravages of war, the greed of a few threatens the future of many. We challenge you to push back the tide of unbridled growth and lay your stake to a sustainable universe. It is only by embracing the fragility of this world that you will make it your own.