This year’s Chobi Mela features more students and ex-students from Pathshala than in previous years and highlights the high quality of work that is being produced in the institution. The new breed of photographers is more dynamic and experimental, breaking traditional approaches and encapsulating intimacy and personal connection in their respective stories.
An exemplary work from this group would be Sayed Asif Mahmud’s “My City of Unheard Prayers”. Mahmud is a second year student from Pathshala and his exhibit can be seen at the Chobi Mela VI exhibition at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy till the 3 February, 2011.. His work is a series of images that represent his perspective on life in the big city Dhaka. Over time he has developed a personal account of living in the chaos of an urban jungle. Although he has spent most of his life outside Dhaka, his work focuses on Dhaka and the journey he feels entangled in with his friends, thoughts and emotions.
“The theme being ‘Dreams’, I think it’s a privilege to be included in the festival. My story reflects on my dreams, nightmares and the reincarnation of dreams. I focused on two aspects of the city life – isolation and the rat race. I’ve primarily come from the northern part of Bangladesh and have often felt unattached or restless with the lifestyle here, and I’ve seen that same sense of isolation being reflected in many of my contemporaries. Competitiveness, anxiety, fear, isolation, depression – all these feelings encapsulate my mental state and how my evolving dreams, and that is what my story is all about.”
Mohammad Anisul Hoque – also a student from Pathshala – tells a very different story. His work is selected for a digital exhibition at Goethe-Institut Auditorium on 23 January, titled “High Life”. Hoque holds a degree in botany and enjoys taking family pictures. His work is a selection of photographs that reflects the comfortable urban lifestyle of an affluent family in Dhaka and he portrays the various shades of colour and glamour in that lifestyle.
“When we think about our lives and what we all eventually dream about, this is the kind of lifestyle that we all want to settle for. We want the comfort of our families, the luxury of affluence, the security of our homes and the guarantee of a smooth way of living. My story portrays the lifestyle that many of us dream about having.”
Tushikur Rahman joined Pathshala during Chobi Mela V. He feels tremendously humbled and thrilled to have picked up so much from the institution in two years.. His work “Fatalistic Tendency” portrays an amalgamated state of mind engulfed with depression, suicidal tendencies and the death of dreams, and was one of the digital exhibits at Goethe-Institut Auditorium at Chobi Mela VI on 22 January 2011.
“My friends tell me my work contradicts my personality. They usually know me as someone who’s very amicable and cheerful. These photographs – on the other hand – reflect on a more anxious and devastated personality.”
Chobi Mela VI’s restless creativity marks an exhilarating point on its journey – not only in terms of the festival, its exhibitions and the visiting artists, but also the students of the institution and the art of photography. As Dick Doughty, the Managing Editor of Saudi Aramco World Magazine and a visiting artist who is also conducting a workshop at Pathshala says, “I felt inspired on coming to Pathshala this year. The institution is shaping to be an important and remarkable center for photography, and instead of bringing ideas from elsewhere, it has begun producing its own unique ideas.”