What was Chobi Mela and what happens next

A project by Naeem Mohaiemen | coordinated by Sayed Asif Mahmud | research by Habiba Nowrose based on interviews with Shahidul Alam & ASM Rezaur Rahman | photography by Pranabesh Das & Debashish Chakrabarty | timeline design by King Kortobbyo.


Eighteen years is a long time, when measured by the tectonic changes in what is expected, accepted, or challenged in the space of photography. Chobi Mela (CM) played a role in all this, creating a robust Global South photography context over two decades. The early years contain a fever of fighting inequality through the camera. By the second decade, works had also turned toward autobiography, abstraction, and surrealism.

Although there are many stories from Chobi Mela, this project chose the biennial catalogue as object of research. Re-photographing these pages produces frames within frame. The patient viewer can glean back-story, evolution and rupture– and always, a commitment to camera eye.

Gyantapas Abdur Razzaq Bidyapeeth

House # 60, Road # 7/A,
Dhanmondi, Dhaka-1209
web: www.abdur-razzaq-foundation.org
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