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Munem Wasif

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The Artist 
I was born in Bangladesh in 1983 and I studied at the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute in Dhaka, where I now teach. I’ve been part of the Dhaka Art Summit [2016] and I’m one of the curators of Chobimela, an international festival of photography that takes place in Bangladesh. I’ve been working in documentary and archival photography for some time now.

The Work
My black and white photography investigates complex social and political issues with a traditional, humanistic language, by getting close to the people, physically and psychologically, dealing with multiple questions and contradictions. I like to experiment beyond the tradition and test the possibilities of fiction by borrowing a familiar documentary language. My last Project is called Land of Undefined Territory, which debuted at the Dhaka Art Summit and travels to Gwangju and Singapore Biennale. It will be exhibited as part of Prix Pictet Award show at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in May 2017. It depicts a barren landscape, which could be lunar, earthly or entirely imaginative. In some images, men appear with wheelbarrows and other simple tools. This is the border territories between Bangladesh and India, which still remain somewhat unregulated. At first sight the photographs seem identical, but upon closer examination one begins to recognize the different curves and bends of the roads, and varying sizes of the rocks that littered the barren landscape. 

The land that I chose to photograph bears witness to multiple events that marked the modern history of South Asia: from colonisation, to the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947, the Bangladeshi Liberation War in 1971, as well as ongoing land disputes. Despite its contentiousness, the land bears no traces of national identity, but carries the mark of labouring, as it is an active and self-organized rock-mining site. Land of Undefined Territory grew out of a workshop organised by Britto Arts Trust Bangladesh and India’s Shelter Promotion Council, which was conducted along the borders of the two countries. 

My new project, Seed shall set you free, is an investigation on the agricultural movement in Bangladesh that opposes the use of western pesticides and genetically altered seeds. For this project, I am exploring cyanotype prints. 

Take a look at Munem's work here. 


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