The Errorist, first exploration Dhaka Bangladesh 2008

The ERRORIST in Bangladesh 8-28 November 2008

Initial exploration of the idea of an artists' press agency through the introduction of a new basic human right: errorism or the right to make mistakes in Bangladesh. Residency at Drik multimedia organisation in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Director Shahidul Alam. With the support of Mondriaan Fund.
> www.errorist.net


Three Questions

> 1. DRIK what I think it is?
> 2. Can I 'read' Public Space?
> 3. Does the word Errorism ring a bell?

Drik - Bangladesh

1.Is DRIK what I think it is?
Drik is as exciting as I thought it was. Drik came up to the expectations I had when I first got to know about them two years ago. Even more so, the story of Drik is more exciting and overall fundamental then I thought.

Internationally the picture library and the two yearly photofestival Chobi Mela are the most visible. Locally Drik is more known as a gallery and on a national level clients see Drik as a design studio where they can have their websites, documentaries and printed matter made. Drik has grown naturally and it still does. Starting off with the picture library and a darkroom, the reproduction of the work was done out of the house. Because of the poor quality Drik started to do the graphic design and print production themselves. And so on. Drik.tv is the newest branch. Drik news and the Pathshala media academy and school of photography are seperate unities. Pathshala school of photography delivers high quality photojournalists who have contracts with press agencies scattered around the world even before leaving school. Drik news is an initiative of an ex student of the photography school and is run completely separate.

>Pathshala media academy and school of photography

>Abir Abdullah editing photo's of first years students.


>My desk at the picture library next to the man in the chequered shirt.
Shahidul Alam talking to Duncan, owner of Photo stock agency for advertisement pictures about a possible future coöperation.

In 1994 Shahidul and his partner in life selected some bright young kids, working as child labourers in the garment industry. Ten years old when they got a six weeks training in photography. All of the 47 kids who were taken out of the industry in this way have found good jobs. Half of the group is still working in DRIK. DRIK has seven departments that function independently. The picture library, the graphic design/print office, the multimedia department, the photostudio, internetdepartment, the audiovisual department and the galleryspaces. If necessary they will coöperate. In the two big gallery spaces not only photos are shown. There are painting and comics strips exhibitions as well .(sell better then photos) Drik works for different audiences.

>The moment before the introduction of my work in the gallery space. Art as the therapist for culture. The next lecture I gave was called: The myth of freedom in the west !

>I enjoyed the long talks I had with Shahidul in the trafficjam on our way to public meetings. Here the celebration of the Aga Khan price for architecture won by the Austrian lady in the back and a Bangla architect.


Public Space

2.Can I 'read' Public Space?
Yes it takes some time but then I get ideas in Public Space just like in my own culture. The first week in Bangladesh I was overwhelmed by the impressions. At first I misread a lot of the signs in public space. The combination of the recent political turmoil I was told of and the texts in a letters which are alien to me take the culture for an agressive one. On the contrary the Bangla people are the sweetest I have met so far. When I overcame my own culture shock I started to 'read' public space as is my second nature in my own culture. I discovered two scripts in public space that can be transported to all parts of the world: Beggars economics or what skills, equipment and training do you need to survive, living and working in Public Space. Commuting or how does the worldwide phenomenon that people work where the job is best paid and live where the houses are cheap.

>Trafficjam all over. The press car of Drik collects me on the airport.

>Commuting. The plane from Dhaka Bangladesh to Dubai is filled with farmers who just sold their land. They start working as builders. If they get sacked within the first two years of the contract are over they end pennyless on the airport. I saw them sleeping under thin blankets on the floor.

>American photojournalist as economic refugee in Bangladesh. The money of the fellowship to teach at the Independent University, he sends home to his family. He can live cheap and do his work as a photographer. At home he must take odd jobs.

>Every time your car stops in the trafficjam a colourful (and by times horrifying) parade of traders and beggars appear at your window. This is a small study in how well trained the children and the old man are in transforming themselves into an icon.


3. Does the word Errorism ring a bell?
Yes the word Errorism rings a bell In Bangladesh I introduced myself as an artist who came to start an errorist network. Errorism as a new human right. The right to make mistakes; that enables us to really meet across cultures beliefs because we allow ourselves and the other to make mistakes. I had a lot of very nice conversations on errorism.

>The best proof of the fact people enjoyed the idea is the birthday cake complete strangers brought me in my guesthouse one day.

>While googling to find nice examples of blogs for his students Mr Mohammad Masud Chowdhury entered the word ERROR in the searchmachine. That's how he found out about the errorist.net and the fact that I am in Dhaka at the moment. The errorist network inspired him to hand over this amazing birthday cake today. Masud Chowdhury (on the right in the picture) is lecturer at the Independent University of Dhaka in Media and Communication.