Chobi Mela IX: Stories of Transformation & Change
South Asia’s first premier photo festival, Chobi Mela, returns for its ninth edition in February 2017. We tell you what to look forward to.
Chobi Mela, all set to take place between 3–16 February in Dhaka, promises a great lineup of artists talks, exhibitions, workshops and panel discussions. This year, the theme of the festival is Transition, and will feature the work of 27 artists from 16 participating countries, curated by Munem Wasif, ASM Rezaur Rahman, Mahbubur Rahman, Tanzim Wahab, Alexander Supartono and Salauddin Ahmed. The various works will dwell on diverse themes associated with identity, fiction, loss, death and power, while also highlighting the transition of photography in the social, political, economic and environmental spheres.
The festival will also, for the first time, feature 10 fellows/artists who will produce site-specific artwork for the event. They will use paintings, animation, sound, sculptures, drawings, installations and installations to showcase their personal interpretations of the festival’s theme. For more details about the festival and registration, visit www.chobimela.org
Algeria holds a rather significant spot in Bruno Boujelal’s deeply personal and compelling imagery. In Algeria Scrapbook, he uses photographs, drawings and text to give readers an intimate and riveting insight into the country of his birth. The series was a result of repeated journeys taken during the course of a decade, between 1993-2003, and a period where Bruno also reflects on everything that is right and wrong with the country.
Cristina de Middel
Christina de Middel’s The Afronauts explores the too good to be true story of a Zambian Science teacher who took it upon himself to train the first African astronauts (a woman, two cats and a missionary) to travel into space. With the help of clever props and backdrops, she combines fact and fiction into her photographs, to bring to life what could and would have been an incredible exploit.
Stardust is Debashish Chakrabarty’s experiment in tracing man’s journey and existence on the planet, and is an outcome of his longstanding interest in neuroscience and astronomy. His imagery borders along the line of ethereal and the supernatural, and attempts to depict our period of transition to space.
The magnifying glass has always been an object of interest to Susanta Mandal. As a result, he created mechanical contraptions employing light and lenses to project his visuals as entities harbouring multiple dimensions. The device was used for Scrutiny, where he photographed Nagaland during a residency in 2011. But the idea was first conceived in 2006, where he made multiple portraits in New Delhi and Kolkata, to explore how intensely we are monitored today by surveillance devices.
Katrin Koenning’s project, Dear Chris, was the outcome of her cousin’s sudden suicide, at the age of just 29. Very quietly, her photographs take you through the various articles that encompassed Chris’ rather brief existence, mundane objects like a tie, a wallet and a pair of trousers… And while doing so, Katrin engages her viewers into having a conversation about themes associated with death, suicide, loss, ritual, hope and memory.
A member of the prestigious VII Photo Agency, Donald Weber’s projects are a study of power and its effect between the dynamics of the subject/victim and the master/perpetrator. Interrogations is one such study where he photographed real life criminal suspects in Ukraine, being questioned by the police. These hard-hitting private encounters paint a complex and uncomfortable portrait of the relationship that exists between truth and power.
In Call Me Heena, Shahria Sharmin depicts a delicate picture of the often misjudged and discriminated hijra community in Bangladesh and India, by following in the footsteps of a transgender (Heena).
What You Can Expect at the Festival
There will be talks by Liz Wells (Manufactured Landscapes), Gwen Lee (The Archive as Conversation), Daniel Donnelly and Yoshikatsu Fuji (Building a Community Through Photobooks), Claudi Carreras (An Itinerary Around Latin American Photography), Donald Weber, Anders Peterson… and a lot more!
There will be panel discussions by Shahidul Alam and Tahmina Rahman (Challenges of Working as a Freelance Photojournalist), moderated by Mary O’ Sheal; Prashant Panjiar, NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati and Shahidul Alam (Overlaps and Confluences: South Asian Photography), moderated by Tanzim Wahab.
Slideshows and Presentations
Sarker Protick and Munem Wasif will be presenting a curated slideshow titled Bengal Divided, and Lassana Diarra will be showing her presentation—Bamako, the City of African Photography. There will also be gallery walkthroughs and a gallery visit; the latter taking place in Old Dhaka.