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     Volume 7 Issue 14 | April 4, 2008 |

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A Four Sided Exhibition

Nader Rahman

Amirul Rajiv
Sanjida Shahid Sunny

When photographers or artists come together for a group exhibition we are programmed to think and even search out a common theme within their works. A thread that dangles from one's picture only to be picked up and weaved into another's. That idea has been turned on its head with Britto Arts Trust arranging a photographic group exhibition at Drik Gallery with many themes and many faces. Their only common ground is the camera. Starting today, four photographers from different walks of life with different experiences and different influences will come together for an exhibition, yet even their coming together is a parting of sorts. Munem Wasif, Amirul Rajiv, Sanjida Shahid Sunny and Bruno Rhuf are photographers who not only push the artistic envelope in their exhibition but openly question it.

Amirul Rajiv's work challenges and intimidates all at once. He says, “Everywhere you look there is tension, the tension around the world is pulsating and my work is not a reaction to it, but a product of it.” He talks of internal conflict and wanting to break free and his work seems a true representation of that state of mind. His 'Intelligent Metallic Empire' explores sharp metal objects and their relationship to reality and as one might say the reality of his being. Frowned upon and dreaded he uses knives as a symbol of frustration and repression from which he seeks to break free. Yet even his representation of freedom is skewered through his objects of desire. The freedom he seeks is quite plainly understood as the burden of not being, which can only be achieved through suicide. He openly states that he has tried to take his life twice and that is also where he derives his fascination for sharp metal objects which he portrays in stunning fashion through his work. Few pictures can match his hospital-like imagery where a meat cleaver is placed with slim sharp metal stakes and a piece of carved beef, full of emotion yet doused in anesthesia.

Amirul Rajiv

For the exhibition Munem Wasif has revisited old Dhaka in a new yet familiar way. Having worked with and in the area for over five years it is safe to say he knows his way around. Having photographed there extensively it would have been easy for him to fall back onto a previous body of work. Yet he chose to add newer chapters to his very personal novel of old Dhaka instead of editing a previous draft. The result was that he shot in colour instead of his classic black and white images and narrowed his focus in more ways than one to capture close-ups of ordinary objects and places devoid of humans. Wasif says, “traditionally my strength has been photographing people but with these pictures I wanted to capture their presence through their absence.” What he leaves us with are images that resonate of human presence only through their stark absence. His playful use of colour seems at times to fill the vacuum left by humans without overpowering the emptiness he craves. Some

Munem Wasif

standout pictures include a deep rich blue wall bathed in sunlight with hangars and a framed picture. It is an image which portrays the very ordinariness of our lives as does his picture of a surreal green wall with superman stickers which almost take flight in the absence of children.

Sanjida Shahid Sunny brings to the exhibition an eclectic potpourri of images which stand out even more than her pointed opinions on art. Sunny says emphatically, “photography should be considered part of fine arts, its noted exclusion from the so-called 'canon' of fine arts is nothing short of a joke.” Her pictures stand as her best defense to such a statement as they lay out her philosophy of solitude as almost recreational. For her the act of taking a picture is lonely business which she actively seeks out. Searching for those moments of solitude where if she is lucky enough she will capture others like her. The results of those one-on-one pictures are moments where only the photographer and the subject matter and in a sense they share a sort of collective solitude.

Photography in Bangladesh is still largely either documentary or journalistic but it is exhibitions such as these which seek to widen the artistic scope of the camera. The layman often looks at the pursuit and claims that cameras and not the people take pictures, this exhibition has done enough to dissolve that urban myth. The photographers bring to us seemingly unimportant objects and themes and yet without their human touch no camera in the world could have captured what they did.

Sanjida Shahid Sunny
Munem Wasif

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