“Embracing the Other” is a photographic exhibition inside the Bait Ur Rouf mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi photographer Shahidul Alam’s images celebrate the openness to ‘the other’ that a mosque should symbolise, and are on display at Bait Ur Rouf from 8 to 10 May 2017.
Shahidul Alam is one of the most innovative artists in Bangladesh and is the recipient of the highest national award given to artists in the country. With his images, the photographer, writer, curator and activist has been documenting his country’s struggle for democracy for over 30 years. With this new exhibition, Alam undertakes the task of combating both Islamophobia and extremism, with photographs of the Bait Ur Rouf mosque on display inside the mosque itself. The exhibition, launching at 10:00am on 8 May 2017, will be open from Fajr to Isha prayers until 10 May 2017 and is expected to tour globally.
The Bait Ur Rouf mosque was designed by Marina Tabassum, winner of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture 2016, and holds a particular conceptual similarity to the Prophet’s mosque, which was the first urban element introduced by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to the city of Madinah and functioned as a community development centre. The Prophet is known to have permitted women to sleep in the mosque, and for non-Muslims to pray there. Alam has commented:
It is this openness and the ability to reach out to the other, that appears to be missing today, in everyday life and in the mosque.
Exhibited in MOMA, Centre Pompidou and Tate Modern and speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, Alam (b. 1955) holds a PhD in Chemistry from the University of London and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. A former president of the Bangladeshi Photographic Society, Alam started the Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography, and founded the award-winning Drik agency, the Bangladesh Photographic Institute and Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography.
John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine, describes his book, My journey as a witness as “the most important book ever written by a photographer”. Rezaur Rahman, Curator at Drik, the organisation behind the exhibition, says:
One expects to be surprised by Shahidul Alam. Following on from his groundbreaking shows on “Crossfire” and “Kalpana’s Warriors”, this unique exhibition turns tradition on its head by holding a photographic exhibition in the last place you would expect. A mosque! To use it to combat both Islamophobia and extremism in one go is a masterstroke by one of the most innovative and courageous artists of our times.
“Embracing the Other” by Shahidul Alam is on view at the Bait Ur Rouf mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh from 8 to 10 May 2017, and is expected to tour globally.
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