Photographers fight for human rights

Monash University

International award-winning activists will discuss how photography is an incredible tool in the fight against human rights injustices, during a PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography panel on 12 May, 2022.

The event, chaired by Monash University, brings together artists Poulomi Basu and Phuong Ngo, and photojournalist Dr Shahidul Alam, to explain how photography is a vehicle for tangible social change and amplifies the voices of marginalised people.

Dr Shahidul Alaml has spent more than 30 years documenting human rights issues and political upheaval in Bangladesh. Despite being arrested and tortured for criticising his government, Dr Alaml has built platforms to share stories the Bangladeshi mainstream media won’t touch. His activism saw him named as one of Time Magazine’s 2018 People of the Year.

Exhibiting artist Poulomi Basu’s work addresses the normalisation of violence against women in the global south. Her work A Ritual of Exile: Blood Speaks highlights the physical and emotional impact of the Nepalese practice of Chhaupadi. The tradition considers menstruating women and girls impure and exiles them from their families and communities, sometimes resulting in death.

Artist Phung Ngo’s work, Nostalgia for a Time That Never Was, will also be on show during the festival. His practice is concerned with the interpretation of history, memory and place, and how it impacts individual and collective identity of the Vietnamese diaspora.

Monash University Professor Melissa Miles, Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, will chair the discussion. She said the panellists’ alliance with their subjects is the driving force behind their work that brings injustices to light and inspires action.

“By collaborating with the people whose stories they represent, Poulomi Basu, Phuong Ngo and Shahidul Alam show how photography can be a medium for relationship-building, democracy and social justice,” she said.

“Photographs cannot change the world on their own. These practitioners powerfully combine photography with advocacy, institution building, knowledge sharing and fundraising to make concrete change.”

PHOTO Live: Human Rights

Panel

ACMI / streaming live

12 May, Thursday, 5:30pm – 6:30pm (AEST)

Book your free ticket now

Human rights are fundamental, however, many marginalised communities still lack basic rights. In this panel, we will explore how artists use photography to bring injustices to light, encourage positive change and as a tool for advocacy and activism.

The panel includes exhibiting artists Poulomi Basu and Phuong Ngo, and guest Dr Shahidul Alam, photographer, writer, activist and adjunct professor with RMIT. It is chaired by Professor Melissa Miles, Associate Dean, Research, Monash Art, Design and Architecture.

This event is part of the PHOTO 2022 International Festival of Photography, taking place in galleries and public spaces across Melbourne and regional Victoria from 29 April to 22 May. Responding to the theme Being Human, 123 artists explore the contemporary human condition in 90 exhibitions, alongside a program of talks, tours, workshops and film screenings.

The festival’s headline talks program, PHOTO Live, addresses photography’s social and cultural role in our lives. Featuring exhibiting artists in conversation with curators and academics, these exchanges will explore a range of issues in response to the theme, Being Human.

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