|This year's calendar
is different from those of previous years' in one respect. In each
of these last eight years, Drik has brought together the work of many
different Bangladeshi photographers within one calendar. This year's
calendar features only Shahidul Alam's work and the photographic images
selected are those which explore family lives lived within Bangladesh.
Family lives and not family life. Why in the plural and not in the
singular? It may seem to be a small difference, but the difference
in meaning is great. In the singular, it becomes a norm, an ideal,
one family life or one desired family life. And a desired family life
means that all else is a deviance, an aberration from the ideal, from
the unstated norm. Shahidul's photographs show that there is no single
reality, no singular family life. Family means different things for
different people: the rich and the privileged experience it differently
from the poor. Within the family, men and women are not positioned
similarly whether in their access to resources, or to work, or to
expectations of comfort.
Photographing social relationships is different from those established
photographic practices which focus on discovering and creating the
aesthetic - the beautiful and the photogenic. It is also different
from the kind of photojournalism which concentrates on 'the' factual.
This often translates to wars, famines and floods, or to the political
with a capital P - demonstrations, rallies, ministerial events. Only
these photojournalistic events are considered newsworthy. In a society
and a world with deep divisions - whether between men and women, or
between the rich and the poor, or between the expatriate and the native,
or between nations - taking on the task of photographing social relationships
is in the ultimate analysis a political task.