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Shahidul Alam’s exhibition opens at Rubin Museum in New York

  • Published at 03:03 pm November 8th, 2019
Shahidul Alam
Shahidul Alam Courtesy: Rehnuma Ahmed

The exhibition will highlight Shahidul’s important bodies of work, including a photo series titled A Struggle for Democracy 

Internationally renowned photographer, activist, and founder of Drik and Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Shahidul Alam’s first comprehensive US museum survey started following its public opening at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York yesterday.

The exhibition will cover the works from Alam’s four-decade career, where he has developed broad work in both in education and in the promotion of ethics and commitment towards the issues that affect societies and people in Bangladesh and all across the world through his activism and photography.  

The exhibition will run until May 4, 2020 featuring over 40 photographs and ephemera including portraits, landscapes, and scenes of daily life, strife, and of resistance in the “majority world” — a phrase Alam has used since the 1990s to reframe the notion of the “third world” or “global south”.

The exhibition will highlight Shahidul’s important bodies of work, including A Struggle for Democracy, his earliest series as a professional photojournalist, which highlights Bangladesh’s political struggles against an autocratic leader in the 1980s; photographs from the Brahmaputra Diary series, which explores life across three regions (India, the Tibetan Plateau in China, and Bangladesh) and religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam) along the length of the majestic Brahmaputra River; a sculptural installation of portraits on straw mats from Kalpana’s Warriors, which attempts to break the silence on the disappearance of Bangladeshi feminist activist Kalpana Chakma; and more.
The exhibition will also feature new work, including a 3D model of the prison where in 2018 he spent more than 100 days behind bars for giving an interview on the student protests for road safety in Bangladesh to Doha-based television channel Al Jazeera.

Shahidul said in a recent press statement: “I heard of the possibility to show my work at the Rubin through three layers of bars with noise levels of over 100 decibels.

“I was in jail, but the choice was clear: this was an opportunity not to be missed.” 

“Truth to Power is a tribute to the numerous acts of resistance all across the globe and gives hope to those who continue to believe that a better world is possible. I’m thrilled to have the support of the Rubin Museum,” the Time’s Person of the Year 2018 added.

As part of the exhibition, Shahidul gave a talk on Thursday at the Rubin Museum of Art. 

Shahidul has also been selected as one of the 12 photographers shortlisted for the eighth cycle of the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability. 

The award will be presented to the winner on November 13, with the opening of an exhibition of works by the photographers at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, UK.

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