Bangladeshi police shut down photo show symbolically critical of police

Wall, Shahidul Alam

Police in Dhaka, Bangladesh, have shut down an exhibition of photos by Shahidul Alam, prompting students to create a human chain in protest and seek legal action to see the show reopened. The content of the exhibition?

The photography exhibit was a symbolic treatment of the wave of executions carried out by the Rapid Action Battalion, an anticrime squad whose many critics say that it engages in violent social cleansing.

Rather than document actual killings — something already done at great length by groups like Human Rights Watch — Mr. Alam created a series of large, moody prints that touched on aspects of actual cases...

...Although the killings have drawn international condemnation, they have continued, despite promises by the government to rein in the battalion. Mr. Alam, a photographer, writer and activist, had hoped that his track record and international reputation would offer the “Crossfire” show some protection.

The artist, as director of the exhibiting gallery, Drik, released a statement that reads, in part: "The unfortunate event, which was broadcast worldwide, has tarnished the image of this democratically-elected government. We call upon the government to immediately remove the police encirclement, so that the exhibition can be opened for public viewing and Bangladesh's image as an independent democratic nation can be reinstated."

The show's curator, Jorge Villacorta, introduces the show with a description of the image above:
There is a wall running along a street. The writing on it is fragmented and cannot quite be made sense of. The image was taken in the middle of the night and a yellow glare was allowed to invade the site, as the wall slipped away at an angle. A shadowy presence barely registered on the shot. This urban setting, one is tempted to say, could be nothing but the scene of a crime. The sinister, uneasy beauty of this work by Shahidul Alam informs other images that are part of his new series, again and again. Others are eerie, otherworldly; and others still, seem familiar yet are anguished, as if the common ground for existence was being subtracted from the picture altogether...
Hat tip @Yumi_Goto

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