Best years of my life
(Bangladeshi migrant labor in Malaysia) : 1st – 30th Nov. 2016

Shahidul Alam

The Best Years of My Life Bangladeshi Migrants in Malaysia by Shahidul Alam

That single hope, to change one’s destiny, is what ties all migrants together whether they be the Bangladeshis who work in the forestsof Malaysia, who work as unskilled labour in the Middle East, or those that go to the promised lands of the US. Not all of them are poor. Many are skilled and well educated. Still, the possibility of changing one’s destiny is the single driving force that pushes people into precarious journeys all across the globe.They see it not merely as a means for economic freedom, but also as a means for social mobility.

Dedication To the Bangladeshi women and men who have gone to work overseas, taking great risks and enduring hardships, they who have given of themselves to create a better life for others.

말레이시아의 숲에서 일하는 방글레시아인, 중동에서 일하는 미숙련 노동자, 미국이라는 약속의 땅으로 떠나는 노동자 등의 이주 노동자들은 국적과 장소에 상관 없이 “운명을 바꿀 수 있다는 희망” 하나로 묶여진다. 편견과 달리 그들 모두가 가난한 것은 아니다. 심지어 대다수는 기술을 보유하고 고등의 교육을 받았다. 그럼에도 자신의 운명을 바꿀 수 있다는 가능성은 그러한 그들로 하여금 대륙을 가로지르는 불안정한 모험을 떠나도록 부추긴다. 그 이유는 단지 경제적인 해방에 그치지 않고 안정적인 사회적 위치를 얻기 위함이기도 하다. 지금도 가족들을 위해 위험과 역경을 무릅쓰고 자신을 희생하여 조국을 떠나는 방글라데시의 사람들에게 나의 작품을 바친다.

Shahidul Alam

“As a journalist, your only space is at the edge. You have to be constantly feeling the heat. Go back one more step, and you may cease to be effective. There are no safe options, and no prizes for popularity and if you’re not making certain people uncomfortable by your presence, you are probably doing something wrong. The struggle for change is a never-ending process that requires you to be constantly alert, and forever swimming against the current. It is a lonely, stressful, tiring and immensely gratifying journey

I am a Bangladeshi photographer, writer and activist with a special interest in education, new media and ICT. I was a research tutor at London University where I obtained a PhD in organic chemistry before taking up photography as a profession. I am a former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society and set up the award winning Drik Picture Library. I also set up the Bangladesh Photographic Institute and Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography and the DrikNews photo agency. I am the director of Chobi Mela the festival of photography in Asia. My work has been shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Arts, the Royal Albert Hall in London, Le centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and the National Art Gallery in Kuala Lumpur. I have chaired the World Press Photo international jury. I am an honorary fellow of the Royal Photographic Society, a board member of the National Geographic Society and the Eugene Smith Foundation. I am currently visiting professor of photography at the University of Sunderland. In 2007 I lectured at Harvard, UCLA and Stanford universities in the USA, Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines and Universidade Eduaro Monldane in Mozambique and was one of the Masters in the Joop Swart Masterclass organised by World Press Photo. In 2007, I also had two books published, “Nature’s Fury” on the earthquake in Kashmir and “Portraits of Commitment” a book of portraits of leaders in the fight against HIV/AIDS in South Asia. I have been a guest curator for the National Art Gallery in Malaysia and the Whitechapel Gallery in London. In 2009 I had the rare privilege of being given exclusive access to photograph Nelson Mandela. In 2010, I presented my ongoing work on extrajudicial killings at the Tate Modern.

I am currently setting up a media academy in Bangladesh

저널리스트에게 허락된 유일한 공간은 벼랑 끝자락뿐이다. 매 순간 위험부담을 느끼고 있어야만 한다. 한 발자국이라도 물러서면 기자로서의 신분이 위태로워진다. 이 길에는 안전한 선택지는 없으며 유명하더라도 보상이 따르지 않는다. 혹시라도 본인의 존재감이 타인에게 불편을 주지 않는다면 뭔가를 잘못하고 있는지를 의심해야 한다. 기자에게 있어서 변화를 위한 투쟁의 과정에는 끝이 없으며, 늘 깨어있고 주류를 거스르고 있어야 한다. 이는 외롭고 싫증나지만 분명 보람찬 여정이다. Shahidul Alam은 사진작가이자 글작가, 예술가이며 방글라데시에서 미디어를 가르치는 교사다. World Press Photo와 Prix Pictet의 사진저널리즘의 심사위원이며 MOMA에서 전시회를 열었다.

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