East or West, Bengal is the best!

E or W

Last year, I was invited by my friend and photographer,  Anil,  to be featured in a photo book,  A Month, 6 Artists and a Book that he was putting together for the Solo Photo Book Project that he’d signed up for.  I not only got to experience a photo shoot but also saw him work at making his first book and I must confess I was tempted to make one of my own.   After a year of taking photographs almost everyday,  I felt more prepared and jumped at the chance when it came around to sign up.

You can see the fruit of my labour – East or West, Bengal is the best!here.   It is based on photographs taken over a 3 week period.   A few have been taken when accompanying Anil on his photo shoots.  You can see his book, A Slice of Life, here.

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I had more or less decided to skip participating this year because of an unexpected opportunity of having solo art exhibition which kept me extremely busy.  For the four days of early morning (6am!!) shoots,  I mostly took video of the mad rush of frenetic activity in the fish market, Karwan Bazaar and the boats dredging and carrying sand on the Buri Ganga and at an abandoned stretch of railway track.  I was hoping to use still from the video as references for future work.  After the Solo finished I suddenly had a lot of time on hand and decided to give it a go.  On two of the days I ran out of tape and pulled out my still camera to take a few pics.  I’ve used some of these in the book.

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The one taken above of the sleeping vendor is one of my faves followed closely by the one of the men peering through the bars on the truck they were travelling in.  The one below is of a vegetable vendor who came up to me and demanded to be photographed and then proceeded to perform some form of martial arts.  He had everyone around him in splits.  Quite obviously a Kungfu movie buff.  He didn’t want to give up on his cigarette even for that brief performance!   Here’s the shortlist of 83 photographs from about a 1000.  The book has a smaller sub set of these.

Fu Man Choo!

In case you’re still reading and want to know more about the project, I’ve cut and pasted some info from the website.  Click on the links below to read about it in more detail and maybe join in next year?

What is SoFoBoMo

SoFoBoMo is short for Solo Photo Book Month – a group event where a bunch of photographers all make solo photo books start to finish, in 31 days, at more or less the same time. It’s modeled loosely on NaNoWriMo, where participating writers all write novels in a month, and NaSoAlMo, where musicians write and record solo albums in a month.

For SoFoBoMo, the goal is to make the photos, write any needed text, layout the book, and produce a PDF image of the book, all in 31 days. Rather than confining it to a single calendar month, we use a ‘fuzzy month’, where you can pick any contiguous 31 day period inside a two month window – this makes it a bit more flexible and encourages broader participation.

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Jhaal Muri

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A few months back, I’d put up a post about working on a new project.  Well, the time has come to share the details.  Those of you who follow my blog know that quite a few of my paintings are based on Anil’s inspiring photographs.   And it’s not surprising that I wasnt the only one inspired.   Rokeya, a leading Bangladeshi artist and friend suggested that a few of us come together to make and exhibit work based on our interpretation of Anil’s photographs.  They were to be references of Bangladeshi street life – photographs and paintings.  I loved the idea and accepted immediately.  In addition to Anil and Rokeya, there is Kuhu (also a well established artist who has helped me in my artistic journey these last two years),  Smita (a great artist and a good friend ) and I.  The Group of Five is made up of friends which has made working on this project so much more enjoyable.

Jhaal Muri is a delicious Bengali street snack made of puffed rice.  It is a spicy mix of many interesting and different ingredients which blend together well and the end result is a tasty packetful.  This is what our exhibition aims to be.

If you’re in Dhaka, please do drop by and catch up with us and our work at Bay’s Galleria November 8th to 23rd.

Radius Centre

is delighted to invite you to

Jhaal Muri

An Art & Photography Exhibition on Bangladesh Street Culture by

Rokeya ~ Kuhu ~ Smita ~ Ujwala ~ Anil

His Excellency Mr. Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty, High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh
will inaugurate the event.

8th November 2008 at 6:30 PM

Bay’s Galleria

5th Floor 57 Gulshan Avenue Dhaka Bangladesh

The exhibition will remain open 8th to 23rd  November 2008


RSVP: Radius Center Tel 8833471-2 or email five@newber.com

Update : November 13, 2008 : Press coverage in The Daily Star, Dhaka, Bangladesh, the leading daily – Jhaal Muri, Dhaka street culture in focus by Nivedita Raitz von Frentz