We Shall Defy: Shahidul Alam

Friday, May 6 – Dec 31, 2022

659 W. Wrightwood
Chicago, IL 60614

In keeping with its commitment to providing a platform for art that engages the critical issues of our time, Wrightwood 659 presents 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.

We Shall Defy draws on a poem by indigenous writer Kabita Chakma in Pahari language, translated by Alam for an exhibit he had put together on the disappearance by the Bangladesh military of the indigenous leader Kalpana Chakma. To expand the poem’s narrative, Alam integrates the ancient form Bangla art, Patachitara (pictorial cloth scrolls), with photographs from just over 14 artists and activists. Through images and text by Alam, illustrations and shlok (verse) in Bangla by Amal Akash, sketched descriptions of Alam’s life in jail by Sofia Karim, and a timeline by the King Kortobbyo collective + Naeem Mohaiemen, the show maps out the turbulent path that Alam and his team have navigated in their struggle to attain social justice.

Support for this exhibition is provided by Alphawood Foundation Chicago.