Public art installation at the Korail slum waterfront at Gulshan
Since early 2013, artist and photojournalist Susie Taylor has been reporting on the Bangladeshi garment industry with her partner, Jason Motlagh. The two have teamed up with the Photography Department of Counter Foto, an international platform of photographers and activists, to install a public art installation with world-renowned artist JR and the Inside Out Project, at the Korail slum waterfront in Gulshan, Dhaka. The exhibition opened on September 13, says a press release.
Taylor brought the Inside Out project to Bangladesh because of the inherent tension inside the Bangladeshi garment industry. While the industry has brought strength and mobility to women, it has also cost them dearly – both in the loss of traditional craftsmanship and the adoption of grueling labour demands. The art installation at Korail is a celebration of the hard working Bengali woman and in support of her struggle for socio-economic justice.
The message is Dignity in Industry. Bengali photographers from Counter Foto, in collaboration with Susie Taylor and Jason Motlagh, produced the artwork. The interactive public exhibition was installed in collaboration with JAAGO Foundation, a youth organisation that focuses on eradicating poverty in Bangladesh. Jaago has built and operated schools in Korail over the years. The prints are done on PVC plastic rather than traditional paper and wheat-paste to add utility to the environment, and avoid adding to the solid waste that is already a burden for those living in Korail. The Korail community owns the completed exhibit; and at any point can use the work for insulation, waterproofing, etc.
Jaago Foundation will be collecting garbage from the waterfront during installation of the piece.
The exhibit is entitled “Akhter Begum”-- the two most common last names for garment workers in the countries EPZs -- adopted by most who have only first names and sometimes no government record. The broader public is invited to take boats to Korail; interact with the community; boost the local economy; learn their stories; take part in the clean up effort; and close the overt division between the rich and the poor.