The 7th Chobi Mela (Photo Fair), an international festival of photography, is taking place in Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Organized by Drik Picture Library Ltd. and Pathshala (The South Asian Institute of Photography) it is the largest festival of photography held in Asia.
The event was founded in 1999 and is held every two years in Bangladesh. According to DRIK blog:
The festival examines the dramatic shifts of image production, ownership and distribution brought on by new developments in the media landscape.
What sets apart the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography in Dhaka, Bangladesh, is that it is not only truly international, but is also perhaps the world’s most demographically inclusive festival.
This year's theme of the festival is Fragility, exploring the quieter, more subdued and delicate moments in life, which the shutter of the camera usually misses or ignores. 34 artists from 23 countries featuring Eugene Richards, Graciela Iturbide, Walter Astrada et al. are exhibiting their work at different venues in Dhaka city during 25 January -7 February 2013. Here is a list of events and venues of the festival.
Chobi Mela blog introduced the big names in World Photography Max Pam, Pablo Bartholomew, Ruth Eichhorn, Jody Haines, NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati, Ilaria Di Biagio, B. S. Shivaraju (Cop Shiva), Hossein Fatemi, Maika Elan, Nii Obodai, Chris Rainier and Chris Riley et al. who are attending the festival.
Renowned photographer Shahidul Alam, director of Chobi Mela, shares an amazing story how British photographer Rupert Grey brought his 1936 Rolls Royce to Dhaka to attend the rally of the festival.
The antique Rolls had travelled through the Rajasthan deserts and gone along the foothills of the Himalayas and followed the Brahmaputra to Bangladesh, but was stopped at the Tamabil border, when bureaucracy kicked in.
Rupert could eventually bring in the vehicle with a little help from friends.
Here is an interview of Shahidul Alam taken by Munem Wasif.
Award winning Indian Photojournalist Pablo Bartholomew says about Chobi Mela:
So what makes me come back to Chobi Mela, this pioneering festival for photography in Asia? It is the question that I ask myself, now that I am here in Dhaka setting up both my father’s and my exhibitions. Obviously it is the opportunity to show the works and be part of discussions that may provide and lead up to good dialogues and debates. [..]
On January 25, 2013, the opening day, a rally started at 3:30PM in front of the Bangladesh National Museum and ended in Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, the venue of the opening ceremony. Photoblogger Monirul Alam joined the rally and posted picture in his blog. The roundup of the first week in pictures can be found here.
American Photographer Chris Riley shares the learning from Chobi Mela:
We live in an age within which visual literacy may very well transcend literacy of the word. There is no need to translate a photograph. Photographs contain both an inherent narrative and the ability to interpret. This makes the medium a medium of dialog, unlike film and television with their tightly controlled narrative forms. I watch a documentary and there is no room for me. I study a series of photographs and my head spins with questions and thinking. We have seen images from African, Chinese, Nepalese and Bangladeshi photographers, each telling a story that opens the photographic dialog.