Today, Chris Riley joins as a contributor to this blog, bringing an ousider perspective of the Chobi Mela VI festival. Chris Riley will address Chobi Mela VI at the Goethe Institut Evening Presentations on Wednesday 26 January, 2011 at 7:15 pm.
We’ll officially link him in as a contributor but till then I am copying his posts from his blog Learning From… with his permission.
Dhakha, Bangladesh: I have been here two days and the surface is slowly beginning to fade away as the city and its people cautiously reveal themselves. Shahidul Alam and his team arranged for a river journey through the fog of The Buriganga River, past the brick works and boatbuilders, to the broad outlet of the delta. It was a long night of music and joy to celebrate the opening of the Chobi Mela VI International Festival of Photography. Baul music filled the boat until dawn, a celestial music, devotional, rhythmic and filled with love.
Chobi Mela’s restless creativity is part chaos, part human enterprise and all Bangladesh. It is real, an urgent investigation into how we are as people and what we are doing in and to this world. The theme is “Dreams” and already the imagination of the storytellers is causing delight and controversy. Young photographers eschewing staid presentations fill the auditorium with multimedia shows that evoke more emotion than Hollywood could ever imagine. The flawed and the near perfect are side by side but it is the power of the personal story that elevates. The young and the old compete for attention, the old seeing the old techniques and their attendant philosophies wane as the young emerge with new ways and new perspectives. The mass media of objectivity and truth is giving way to the social media of perspective and feeling. In the conversation we struggle with the idea of truth in its multiple forms. I talk with a young Fulbright Scholar about the politicization of history, the multiple frames of truth and its consequences.Creative chaos is here, it is a vital energy that drives people. As one artful presenter said: I was not trying to be truthful I was trying to tell my story. (I paraphrase).
The old dark conflict of East and West, of ancient cultures with modern media skills against modern cultures overrun by their technologies, the competition between young and old, rich and poor; it does not get more elemental than this. Images of caged animals in Australia provide a perfect metaphor for the entrapments of history and the suffocating blanket of globalism. From these prisons creative people are digging tunnels with pixels and soundbites. It is exciting and it is frightening. The old order had its own comforts but here in Chobi Mela’s Majority World that comfort is stripped away.
A quote: “Civilized society treats artists well”. It is hard to be civilized when the comfort of truth is being recreated in public. But it is so civilized here, the discourse is hard, the relationships soft and warm. It is a perfect crucible within which to re-imagine the world as a better place. Which, of course, is why everyone is here.