Chobi Mela 0 kicks off today12 February 2021
The 11th edition of Chobi Mela titled Chobi Mela 0 will kick off today to enthral the audience with its beautiful collection of photographs from around the world. The international photography festival will be held from February 12 to 21 at Drikpath Bhaban in the capital's Panthapath area. This edition is going to feature a range of multidisciplinary and experimental art projects. Apart from the gallery, the classrooms, rooftop, parking space, stairwells of the newly built Drikpath Bhaban at Sukrabad, Panthapath in Dhaka have been used innovatively as exhibition spaces. Artists from abroad are unable to participate in the festival because of the pandemic this time. Visitors for the physical exhibitions will also be limited. However, people from all over the world will be able to experience the exhibitions virtually through Chobi Mela
website. This year the Chobi Mela is comprised entirely of participants from five South Asian countries - Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. A total of 75 artists' works has been arranged in eight curated shows - (1) (Off) Limits, (2) The Rebel with a Smile, (3) Wishing Tree, (4) Bodh: Chobi Mela Fellowship 2021,
(5) Frozen Song, (6) Cross Roads Collectives Intervention, (7) Baba Betar,
and (8) Chhapakhana Archive.
The curators of the event are ASM Rezaur Rahman, Sarker Protick and Tanzim Wahab along with guest curators including Anushka Rajendran, Nazmun Nahar Keya and Zihan Karim. The festival will be inaugurated through introductory speeches by photographer Shahidul Alam and the curators on the rooftop of DrikPath Bhaban, after a small rally.
There are two important individual retrospective exhibitions this year. Wishing Tree
is a tribute to late architect Bashirul Haq.
A part of the research on the lifelong work of the first Bangladeshi female photographer Sayeeda Khanum is exhibited in The Rebel with a Smile. (Off) Limits is the largest group exhibition in the festival, which features the work of 14 South Asian artists. This includes works on various socio-political issues and movements from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal that tend to be forgotten during the pandemic. There are also works of Bangladeshi artists like Mahmud Hossain Opu, Salma Abedin Prithi, Samari Chakma and Naeem Mohaiemen on the pandemic. This year, 14 young artists have been
awarded the Chobi Mela Fellowship.
Their work is in the exhibition Bodh, which named after a poem of the same name by Jibanananda Das, drawing from its inspiration. For the first time, Chobi Mela is
including the works by four art collectives -
(1) Jog Art Space, Bangladesh, (2) Daagi Art Garage, Bangladesh, (3) Colomboscope, Sri Lanka and (4) Kaali Collective, Bangladesh. This project titled Crossroads is a solidarity project, which encourages collaboration among neighbours. Apart from the exhibitions there will be a mix of special programs and features from February 12 to 16, including portfolio reviews, podcasts, solidarity with photography schools, experiences of women photographers and artists, art book corner, educational
programmes for Pathshala students etc. According to the curatorial note, with this
special edition - Shunno (0), Chobi Mela raises
essential questions about its own purpose. "Shunno can be an amorphous infinite space,
or a home that runs parallel with all others. Shunno is a pure matter-energy in philosophy, detached from a troubled force. After completing 10 editions in two decades, Chobi Mela mounts a self-reflective edition," the note added. Baba Betar is a different kind of presentation
in this Chobi Mela. It is a web radio by Arfun Ahmed, which he started in March 2020 during the pandemic. It includes the contribution by writers, poets, thinkers, and many more.
Baba Betar has been revived for Chobi Mela and it will be aired every day during the
festival from 8:00pm to 10:00pm.