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Censored Sonar Bangla Shehzad Noorani Version 1


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We at OITIJ-JO are very disappointed to inform all our supporters that we have been forced to take down our latest OITIJ-JO presentation…
SONAR BANGLA: An exhibition by SHEHZAD NOORANI after only one day at Gram Bangla.

We had a Private View – Thursday 19th October 2017.
This project was supposed to be up until Early December.

Oitij-jo was set up as a platform to present creative achievements of Bengali arts & artists to encourage conversation / discussion. To do this we imagined that sometimes what we present will not be to everyone’s liking. We believe in the difference of opinion and having a space to debate and discuss them is a key role to be played by creative practices to advance our community.
Particularly important to have a variety of views and opinions to answer the political debate of ‘gender roles’, ‘power’, ‘other’, ‘islamisation’ and ‘community cohesion’.

We have been told by our Bengali community elders that this SONAR BANGLA exhibition is HARAM and is not part of Bangla or Islamic tradition of Bangladesh.

So they shut this exhibition down.

We express our thanks to Gram Bangla, for their support of Oitij-jo’s work to date.

We would like to continue this discussion. We look to you for suggestions on the way forward.

Contact –

#censored #exhibition #art #oitijjo #sonarbangla #power
#ethics  #photography #image  #gendered #gaze


Sonar Bangla : An exhibition by SHEHZAD NOORANI 

Preview – Thursday 19th October 2017, 6:30pm

Exhibition –  20th October – 6 December 2017, daily, 10am – 11pm

VENUE: Gram Bangla, 68 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RL

Oitij-jo is excited to present a photography exhibition by Shehzad Noorani.  The images are from Kandupatti, Old Dhaka, Bangladesh – a brothel that was closed in 1998.  Shehzad stumbled upon Kandupatti accidentally, as a curious young photographer, and became fixated by the energies, colours, and the culture of the place. He became entranced by the power of the women living and working in Kandupatti, and would visit over a period of years (until it closed.)

Born in Bangladesh, a social documentary photographer Shehzad Noorani has a deep interest in social issues that affects the lives of millions of people in developing countries. He has covered major stories resulting from man-made and natural disasters in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh. Other assignments for agencies like UNICEF have taken him to over 60 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.  He has received numerous awards including the Mother Jones International Fund for Documentary Photography and honorable mention by the National Geographic Magazine.

Kandupatti showed Shehzad the innate strength and an openness to being human that these women had, something he has seldom witnessed elsewhere in Bangladesh. The women carried with them a certain sense of authority and control. They acted out their anger, desire, frustrations, they suffered injustice but still were able to get through another day. As such, Shehzad has reflected on the complex natures of struggle and power within spaces and what this means for everyday lives.

Upon reflection, Shehzad is angry, that these photographs do not and cannot do anything more than tell a story from a certain perspective – his privileged male middle class position. Yet the reality is one of injustice, gender inequity and ongoing risks to women’s health and wellbeing. The question of ethics and the narratives created are important for Shehzad to engage with, but also us as viewers of this exhibition. These images aim to represent the struggles of women, whose rise to power, have control, are an inspiration, in the most difficult of circumstances.

About Sex-work / brothels in Bangladesh


Bangladesh is one of the few Islamic countries that tolerates prostitution. Prostitution was not deemed to be illegal in March 2000 by a High Court judgement. As citizens they can demand the same fundamental rights from the State, such as the right to protection and security, the right to shelter and to basic amenities. Men are prohibited from being sex workers. There is an estimated 100,000 female prostitutes.

Although very little information is available about Kandupatti, for example; Daulatdia is a brothel-district 100km west of Dhaka. It is one of 20 brothel villages spread around the country.  Daulatdia has been called one of the largest brothels in the world. More than 1,500 women and girls work there day and night. They receive approximately 3,000 men daily. Though 18 is the legal age some sex workers in Daulatdia and elsewhere are as young as 10. Younger girls are often given drugs such as Ventolin or Oradexon, which are designed to fatten cattle, so that they look older.


Oitij-jo Collective, a platform for UK’s creative talents of Bengali and the British-Bengali Community ranging from Literature, Art, Design, Fashion and Music. This exhibition is part of Oitij-jo’s up and coming ‘AKHON/Where is Bengal Now?’ festival in 2018. |

GRAM BANGLA 68 Brick Lane, E1 6RL, +44 7958325826 @grambangla
Authentic Bangladeshi fish restaurant speciality fresh water fish from Bangladesh. It is the first restaurant to specifically cater for the need of the Bangladeshi community particularly amongst the young professionals.

CM MEDIA 470 Railway Arch, Cantrell Road, London E3 4BN, 0208 981 4035

Print, Design, Finishing, Banner, Web
CM Media is the print partner for this exhibition.

Founded and run by Abbas Nokhasteh, Openvizor is a non-profit arts and cultural platform and organization. It brings together different people and skills from around the world to combine practical knowledge and research, learning from each other in collaborations exploring new ways to express, educate and organise from the ground up.


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