National, Front Page

Rare photos of Bangladesh’s birth and Bangabandhu

Exhibition to open today

Published : 14 Dec 2022 10:05 PM

In the month of victory, Samdani Art Foundation and Centre for Research and Information (CRI) are showcasing never-before-seen images by renowned photographer Anne de Henning that highlight and celebrate Bangladesh’s indomitable courage during the Liberation War against Pakistani occupation forces. The exhibition, titled ‘Witnessing History in the Making: Photographs by Anne de Henning’, is set to open today.

The exhibition will be open to visitors at Dhaka’s Liberation War Museum from December 15 to December 24. The presence of Anne de Henning and a tour by the veteran French photographer through her exhibition is a special attraction.

Already earning global acclamation and covered by leading international media outlets, the exhibition drew praises in France earlier. “So intense and so fragile” is how Forbes magazine described the exhibit.

Traveling through the country during the Liberation War, Henning’s photographs captured life in the war zone – from freedom fighters, to men, women and children boarding refugee trains and fleeing from their villages.

On her second visit to the country, her photographs from 1972 feature Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who, all his life, worked to decolonize the nation from British and Pakistani rule and move towards democracy and freedom. Images of Mujib were systematically destroyed after the coup of 1975 and Henning’s surviving colour photographs are among the few known to still exist.

“There's a leader from the subcontinent who led his country to independence based on very progressive ideals of a secular, equal country for all,” said Radwan Mujib Siddiq, grandson of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and a trustee of CRI, expressing his views about the photographs.

“The whole of Bangladesh got behind him, they fought a war against all odds, and Bangladesh emerged independent,” he said.

Henning’ captured Bangabandhu giving a speech at the first Council Meeting of Awami League after the independence of Bangladesh. “I came specifically from Calcutta to photograph the event,” she said. Although at the time she favoured shooting in black and white, she chose to capture this event in colour because of the vibrant blue, white and red stripes of the shamiyana — ceremonial tent — that housed the event.

Centre for Research and Information (CRI) and Samdani Art Foundation will also hold “Let’s Talk with Anne de Henning: Memories of Bangladesh in War and Peace” on December 17, 2022. At the session, Henning will share her experience of capturing images during the Liberation War in 1971 and the post-war country in 1972.

Anne De Henning was one of the first photojournalists to enter Bangladesh during the war. She came back again in 1972, to photograph the man whose name she heard many times during the war, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Henning will be visiting Bangladesh after 50 years.