In conjunction with ICP’s 2019 Infinity Awards, join us for a special evening with Special Presentation Award winner Shahidul Alam as he shares his journey as a Bangladeshi photographer, writer, and human rights activist and Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year.

It is difficult to find a country that does not espouse freedom and democracy in its rhetoric, while actively suppressing them in its practice. In the absence of strong institutions which can resist such practice, it falls upon activists, media professionals, and cultural actors to find ways to counter repressive forces. As a photographer, writer, and human rights activist, Shahidul Alam has, on a personal capacity and through the networks and institutions he has built, been instrumental in creating spaces for intervention. Alam, by highlighting the successes and failures, will take the audience through this process.

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About Reimagining the Image

This series examines film, photography, and new media from the artist’s perspective. Taking lens-based work as a starting point, Reimagining the Image invites in imagemakers who pose new questions about the social function of photography, use alternative and emerging practices, and ask critical questions about the form.


Time magazine’s 2018 Person of the Year, photographer, writer, and human rights activist Shahidul Alam, obtained a PhD in chemistry from London University before taking up photography. Returning to his native Bangladesh in 1984, he campaigned to bring down autocratic general Hussain Muhammad Ershad. In his pursuit of social justice, he set up the award-winning Drik Picture Library, Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, and Chobi Mela international photography festival. His book My journey as a Witness has been described by John Morris, the legendary picture editor of Life magazine, as the “most important book ever written by a photographer.” A recognized public speaker, Alam has lectured at Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, Stanford, and Yale universities. He has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Tate Modern, and Centre Georges Pompidou. His awards include a Lucie Award, as well as the Shilpakala Award, the highest cultural award given to Bangladeshi artists. Alam is the only person of color to have chaired the prestigious international jury of World Press Photo. He is a visiting professor of Sunderland University and an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. In 2018, he was jailed and tortured for speaking out against his government’s repressive practices.


Image: Shahidul Alam, Dal Lake, Kashmir, India, 2008.