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World Press Photo In Dhaka: Behind The Scenes

With hundreds of people seeing the show every day, and excellent media
coverage, it might appear as if the staging of WPP photo in Bangladesh was a
smooth well organised affair. As Marc will testify, the reality was very
different. For those of you who have seen the show at the gallery or online,
this behind the scenes look will provide an amusing take on a potential

The crates had arrived at Zia International Airport on the 24th of December
2003, but the journey from Zia to Dhanmondi took considerably longer. The
opening was at 4:00 pm on the 7th January 2004. By 3:30 pm, the crates
hadn't arrived! We did know they had left the airport, and was able to tell
the Dutch Ambassador that it was safe for him to come over. The head of the
caretaker government, our chief guest, Justice Habibur Rahman was already on
his way. The adrenaline was flowing!

More at: 

The Drik 2004 calendar has been very well received. Look up the review by
Momena Jalil at:


Thanks to our media partners MDLF you can now purchase our calendar and our
other products online at:


January 19, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

World Press Photo Opens in Dhaka

Well, the show is still stuck at the airport, and Marc has been
loitering around the streets of Dhaka, but we are still hopeful that the
biggest show of the year will open tomorrow (7th January) at 4:00 pm at
the Drik Gallery. The exhibition will be opened by former Chief Justice
and Chief Adviser to the caretaker government Justice Muhammad Habibur


We live in difficult times. Not only do we need to combat the
suppression of press freedom locally, but we also need to fight the
unrestrained propaganda that camouflages as news in mainstream western
media. The use of the media for propaganda is not new. While embedded
journalism has only recently been institutionalised, the mechanism has
been in place ever since the US failed 'to manage' the media during the
invasion of Grenada. However, the global reach of some western media
organisations give them a reach that is unprecedented. The new forms of
imperialism are also supported by tacit support from local
representatives of western governments, as well as the developmental and
cultural organisations they support. Ironically, these are the very
organisations that promote 'free press and democracy' in our countries
while local media organisations operate under the silent pressures of
tied aid and thinly veiled threats of 'withdrawal of support'. 

It is ten years since we first brought World Press Photo (WPP) to the
region. Now WPP is not only a regular feature in our calendar, but the
show has also travelled to India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. The WPP workshops
have also been held in Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Showing the
finest photojournalism exhibition in the world has had a visible impact
in our development of press photography. Bangladeshis have won awards,
been accepted for Masterclass, and been represented in both the adult
and child juries of WPP. 

Despite these successes, it is our ability to withstand these local and
international pressures, which will determine whether we can ever become
a media of the people. Political and financial independence doesn't come
easy. However, it is not the west or our politicians, or our sponsors
who hold the key. The compromises we make along the way, the favours we
accept, and our selective blind-spots will eventually circumscribe our
freedoms. Through this exhibition we celebrate the professionalism, the
dedication, the compassion and the love for this freedom that many
photojournalists demonstrate. 

Shahidul Alam

Chairman of the Jury 2003

January 6, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Unwritten Histories

Books in library shelves hold images that have shaped history. Familiar
names, recognisable images and anecdotal tales, remind us of the greats
in photography. Students study the trends set by cult figures and
established masters. Experts at Sotheby's tell you whose work to invest
in. Limited edition prints in gallery walls, sport price tags
commensurate with branding. The market decides. The signature says it
all. The occasional controversy over the veracity of some historic image
may cause a minor blip, but the myths live on, embalmed by scholars and
other experts, who teach us what to value. A discovery causes a stir,
and accolades follow for the discoverer and the discovered. They
reaffirm the inclusiveness of it all.

Lost amongst the library shelves are some names that have taken a
different route. They have worked within their own communities, far from
the gallery walls. Some indeed have become household names despite this
distance. Others have moved to the geographical epicentres of the
industry. Each one however, has left an indelible stamp on the community
that nurtured them. They have given hope, inspired and become role
models for many communities that do not exist in those library tomes,
except as a passing canvas of some recognised genius.

Turning their lens around at their own societies and their own craft,
they have asked questions of themselves. Probing, searching,
challenging, they have unsettled their own universe, asking hard and
demanding answers. While discovery for some have come despite their
peripheral role, others remain unknown, except in the communities they
have chosen to immerse themselves in. This calendar celebrates the
vision, the tenacity and the enormous skills of these individuals, rare
in any society, who have chosen to make a difference. It pays homage to
their unwritten history. 


Well, the Drik 2004 Calendar is now available. Feast yourself on this
list of photographers:

Chien-Chi Chang, Diego Goldberg, Graciela Iturbide, Kishor Parekh, Lucia
Chiriboga, Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Pedro Meyer, Peter Magubane, Raghu
Rai, Reza Deghati, Shahidul Alam, Tara Sosrowardoyo.

Special thanks to Claudia Pretelin, Maria Mann, Neo Ntsome, Robin
Comely, Stefana Fraboulet and Swapan Parekh for their help.

Best wishes for the Gregorian New Year.


January 1, 2004 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment