Shahidul Alam: We Shall Defy

Shahidul Alam: We Shall Defy

Wrightwood 659

December 1, 2021
Shahidul Alam
We Shall Defy
October 8–December 18, 2021
Wrightwood 659
659 West Wrightwood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60614
Hours: Friday 12–7pm,
Saturday 10am–5pm
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In keeping with its commitment to providing a platform for art that engages the critical issues of our time, Wrightwood 659 presents Shahidul Alam: We Shall Defy, an important exhibition of images and texts that illuminate the life and work of the renowned Bangladeshi photojournalist, teacher, writer, institution-builder, and activist Shahidul Alam, whose efforts on behalf of human rights have provoked both accolades and imprisonment.

The title of the exhibition We Shall Defy draws on a poem by indigenous writer Kabita Chakma in Pahari language, translated by Alam for an exhibit on the disappearance by the Bangladesh military of the indigenous leader Kalpana Chakma. ‘We Shall Defy’ through photographs and text by Alam, illustrations and shlok (verse) in Bangla by Akash, sketched descriptions of Alam’s life in jail by Karim, and a timeline describing the building up of a social movement spearheaded by Alam, through building institutions, teaching and activism in Bangladesh, by Mohaiemen and his team, maps out the turbulent path that Alam and his team have navigated in their struggle to attain social justice.

We Shall Defy includes photographs by Alam and his community of artists and activists, as well as illustrations, verse, and more by three additional artists: Amal Akash, a singer-songwriter, and visual and performance artist based in Dhaka; Alam’s niece Sofia Karim, an architect and visual artist in London; and New York-based filmmaker, writer, photographer, and installation artist Naeem Mohaiemen and the King Kortobbyo team. Together, their work explores the turbulent path that Alam and his team have navigated in their struggle to achieve justice and equity.

The primary focus of the exhibition is a series of 9 large banners that are inspired by an ancient form of Bangla art—Patachitara, cloth scrolls containing detailed depictions of mythical narratives. The banners in the exhibition are printed with photographs by Alam and 14 artists, thereby integrating the contemporary and ancient methods of storytelling while expanding on the turbulent experiences of the Bangladeshi people. Panels containing verse with illustrations by Amal Akash and texts by Alam bring context to each banner.

On view Fridays and Saturdays through November and Saturdays only through December 18, 2021. 

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Wrightwood 659
December 1, 2021

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