A photography exhibition gives an insight into the socio-political reality

A view of Ananda Antahleen’s solo photography exhibition titled City Subconscious underway at Dwip Gallery in Lalmatia, Dhaka. — New Age Photo

Photographer Ananda Antahleen’s solo photography exhibition titled City Subconscious depicts different socio-political issues and the sufferings of marginalized people.

The exhibition opened at Dwip Gallery in Lalmatia, Dhaka on August 19.

Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo, Doito Bonotulshi and Ata Mojlisj jointly curated the exhibition.

Visitors come across a pile of debris at the entrance to the gallery. Lots of paper clippings with handwritten notes filled both walls of the entrance hallway.

The exhibition presents 120 photographs mostly taken with a red filter, which are accompanied by handwritten texts. The whole gallery is littered with found objects, wood chips, wood powder and other debris.

“Our city has seen many construction projects in recent years. Many of these projects serve financially solvent people, excluding the marginalized in society. The debris from the exhibition represents the debris of development that covers the streets of Dhaka,” said Ananda Antahleen.

“The blinding lights of development, growth and progress are everywhere, but they are never truly accessible to the majority. For whom exactly is all this happening? Who is included in this vulgar party and who is not? Contrary to the propaganda of the powerful and the grandeur of the capitalists, the reality here is one of inequality, oppression and violence,” reads the text of the exhibition.

Ananda Antahleen has been working on this project for over five years. “I started this project as a documentary, however, I realized that documentation alone was not enough to capture the horrible socio-economic reality of Dhaka. As a result, I turned this project into a docu-fiction,” he told New Age.

“Among the paper clippings on the walls, one wall displays headlines from different national daily newspapers during the Covid-19 crisis and how people have suffered financially. The other wall displays entries from my diary about how I felt about these social issues at the time,” Ananda Antahleen added.

A photograph shows three teenagers casually sitting on a sofa in a landfill.

Several photographs show night shots of Dhaka, its architecture, its lighting, the lives of marginalized people and their struggles.

Another photo shows a deserted street where a young boy is lying on a large sheet of plastic.

A photo shows an empty store. People can see inside the store through glass. Different objects can be seen and a large male mannequin is located in the center of the frame.

Ananda Antahleen also spoke about how he perceived Dhaka while working on the storytelling project.

‘My view of Dhaka has constantly evolved over time. Sometimes it felt like psychedelic, sometimes realistic magic, sometimes anthropological, and sometimes anarchic. The project is a visual diary and it is also a commentary on the situations I have encountered,” he said.

The photography exhibition will end on September 7.

Tracey L. Sweeney