Samdani Art Foundation, CRI to exhibit unseen photographs of 1971-72

Samdani Art Foundation and Centre for Research and Information (CRI) are going to exhibit rare photographs on the birth of the nation from 1971-72 captured by French photojournalist Anne de Henning.

The exhibition of rare and never before exhibited images, which were later curated by Ruxmini Reckvana Q Choudhury, will be held from December 10-31 at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, marking the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence.

The photojournalist's remarkable private archive of unseen photographs is a unique record of the pivotal years which witnessed the transformation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan. In her powerful images, the humanity of her subjects is combined with the grit of traditional photojournalism.

Anne's first visit to Bangladesh was at the age of 26 in 1971 when the Pakistani authorities in Dhaka were not letting foreign journalists into the country.

Travelling through the country during the Liberation War, her photographs captured life in the war zone - from freedom fighters to men, women and children boarding refugee trains and fleeing their villages.

While recalling Anne's first encounter with the Mukti Bahini she said, "I saw a handful of young Mukti Bahinis stepping out of their makeshift observation post flanked by a tall bamboo pole flying the green, red and yellow Bangladesh flag. They greeted me by saying with a broad smile: 'You're now in free Bangladesh'!"

She also said, "The first striking memory I've is of my crossing to East Pakistan from India in the blistering heat and dead silence."

During her second visit to Bangladesh in 1972, Anne's photographs feature Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who worked to decolonise the nation from imperial rules of British and Pakistani towards democracy and freedom.

Anne captured Bangabandhu giving a speech at the first Council Meeting of Awami League after the independence of Bangladesh.

In this regard, she said, 'I came specifically from Calcutta to photograph the event.'

However, the images of Bangabandhu were systematically destroyed after the coup of 1975, and her surviving colour photographs are among the few known to exist.

Besides, this exhibition will bring together other works from Anne's archive, including photographs, from her time in India and her coverage of the Vietnam War.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts