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Kalpana Chakma was a vocal and charismatic leader who campaigned for the rights of indigenous people in the Chittagong Hill Tracts area of Bangladesh.
She was abducted from her home at gunpoint 20 years ago by a military officer and two members of the Village Defence Party and has never been seen again.
Through this powerful installation, using photographs printed on large straw mats each one illuminated by a candle, the acclaimed Bangladeshi photographer, artist and activist Shahidul Alam attempts to break the silence surrounding her disappearance.
"In memory of Kalpana, and celebrating the work she so fearlessly carried out"
- British Journal of Photography
Shahidul Alam is an internationally recognised photographer, human rights activist and digital pioneer. After studying Chemistry in London, where he gained his PhD, he returned to Bangladesh where he founded the Drik (a Sanskrit word meaning ‘vision’) photo agency in 1989.
He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photography Society and visiting professor at Sunderland University. Alam has chaired the World Press Photo jury and his book My Journey as a Witness has been described as “the most important book ever written by a photographer”.
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Kalpana’s Warriors was first shown in Dhaka and New Delhi and is the result of research conducted by Shahidul Alam, Saydia Gulrukh, Rahnuma Ahmed, and Sadia Marium.
The exhibition is supported using public funding by the Arts Council England, and made possible by working with Drik Agency and Art and Aesthetic in New Delhi.
The exhibition would not have been possible without the cooperation of the activists: Hana Shams Ahmed, Rahnuma Ahmed, Shaheen Akhtar, Morshed Ali, Bijay Keton Chakma, Kabita Chakma, Nilima Chakma, Samari Chakma, Sathi Chakma, Manosh Chowdhuri, Ilira Dewan, Udisa Emon, Meghna Guhathakurata, Sara Hossain, Khushi Kabit, Khaleda Khatoon, Faizul Hakim Lala, Taslima Akhter Lima, Amena Mohsin, Anu Muhammad, A N Rasheda, Selim Samad, Badruddin Umar.
Additional thanks to Kabita Chakma, Arshad Jamal, Mohsin Miah and Chris Riley.
Images: 1,4,5) Kalpana's Warriors gallery installation at Autograph, London. Photograph: Zoe Maxwell. 2) Shahidul Alam, Sara Hossin. 3) Shahidul Alam, New settlements with glistening tin roofs dot the hillsides. According to Amnesty International, there are currently 90,000 internally displaced Jumma families.
Autograph is a place to see things differently. Since 1988, we have championed photography that explores issues of race, identity, representation, human rights and social justice, sharing how photographs reflect lived experiences and shape our understanding of ourselves and others.Donate Join our mailing list