Sri Lankan should flag social issues creatively: Bangladesh photo activist

Feb 28, 2012 (LB) – Bangladesh photographer, activist and social entrepreneur Shahidul Alam, challenged Sri Lankans to think creatively to flag social issues that grips the developing world. Driven by largely autocratic governments, developing nations like Sri Lanka battle veiled censorship, subtle military rule and commercial pressure that often suppress unsavoury topics.

“Don’t let those things stop you. Just look for ways of getting the message across, through subtle imagery, creative words,” said Alam, while discussing about ‘Art as a Witness’ with Sanjana Hattotuwa at the Colombo Art biennale.

Dressed in a red salwar kameez and a black belt-pack sitting on his hips, Alam’s British accent belies a steely determination to champion the underdog.

Once stabbed eight times for daring to display subtle photographs highlighting extra-judicial killings and disappearances in his native Bangladesh, Alam jokingly says he has not been knifed since.

However, the element of danger still lurks and the feisty Alam is not shy to carry on his crusade.

While hundreds of photographers have trained under him, focusing their lenses on social issues, Alam built www.drik.com, an awa