Shahidul Alam: The Tide Will Turn
Over the course of a career spanning more than 40 years, Shahidul Alam has become renowned for his photojournalism and activism. From his work as co-founder of the Drik Picture Library to his ongoing battle for civil rights, both in his native Bangladesh and globally, Alam has documented key moments in history including the removal of former Bangladeshi president Hussain Muhammad Ershad.
This talk follows his arrest earlier that year in Dhaka and is an opportunity to examine ongoing issues around civil liberties and resistance, particularly in relation to contemporary art and photography, and to reflect more broadly on Alam’s career.
The conversation will be chaired by curator and writer Hammad Nasar.
Details on how to access the talk will be confirmed upon registration.
“On the night of 5 August, I did not know if I was going to live or die,” writes Shahidul Alam, one of Bangladesh’s most respected photojournalists, essayists and social activists, remembering his arrest, torture and eventual 101-day incarceration in Keraniganj Jail in 2018. Just a few hours before, he had given a television interview criticizing the government’s brutal handling of the student protests of that year which had called for improved road safety and an end to wider social injustice—in his words, “the years of misrule, the corruption, the wanton killing, the wealth amassed by the ruling coterie.” Combining Alam’s photos and texts with those of a range of collaborators, including artwork by Sofia Karim and fellow inmates, The Tide Will Turn documents his experiences, the global support for his release, and the ongoing fight for secularism and democracy in Bangladesh and beyond.
Described by its editor Vijay Prashad as about “the beauty and tragedy of our world, about how to photograph that dialectic, and about how to write about it,” the book comprises four parts: a record of Alam’s time in jail; a chapter each on art and politics, exploring their inevitable interconnectedness; and an exchange of letters between the imprisoned Alam and writer Arundhati Roy, proof of creativity’s endurance even when the state attempts to stifle it. Together, these form a layered critique of autocracy, one underpinned by Alam’s unyielding hope, his conviction that “the tide will turn, and the nameless, faceless people will rise…”
Title: The Tide Will Turn
Publisher: Steidl, 2019
Author: Vijay Prashad
Photographer: Shahidul Alam
Graphic Design: -
Size: 23.5 x 18.5 cm, 184 pages