Md Enamul Kabir – Escape from Life

by Md Enamul Kabir introduction by Brian Quillinan 9th May 2016

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“I am in a bad mood. Probably depressed. Many things are bothering me. I am thinking about all of the things that are frustrating in my life: how boring my job is, the girl I love is far away, and my mother’s health problems.” Md Enamul Kabir

When Enamul sent me this work on crows I have to admit I was surprised a little. He asked me if we only publish hardcore street photography to which the answer is no, in fact we often seek work that goes beyond easy classification. I find it’s a liberation of sorts when the act of photographing life precedes the inevitable classification as opposed to the other way around. After-all, music is the language of music, not just pop, rock or jazz.

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The following is what Enamul says about how this piece came about:

“I decided to take a walk beside Sarwardi Park in Dhaka that evening. I suddenly saw a flock of crows on the tree. Somehow this scene with all of the crows shifted my attention from my problems and I knew I need to take a photo and capture that moment. I shared the photo to one of my closest friends. He introduced me to the work of Masahisa Fukase.”

“Fukase was a very influential photographer in Japan and is best known for his book “The Solitude of Ravens”. I went through his work and fell in love with it. I felt a connection with Masahisa Fukase because of the loneliness that permeated his work, a loneliness I am currently feeling. I felt compelled to continue shooting crows and wanted to pay tribute to Masahisa Fukase.”

Understanding that the language contained in photographs is essentially visual symbolism, photographers can gradually begin to recognise subject matter as metaphors that relate to their own feelings. These metaphors become the building blocks of visual expression resting upon the foundations of such understanding.

Somewhat dark and mysterious, the crow while surrounded by other crows must always fend for itself. Its sound, its look and many of its actions suggest that it is never quite satisfied, as if condemned to a life of scavenging, struggle and discontent. We tend to distrust their motives, not to the extent of rats or vultures but just enough to remain suspicious of their ominous presence.

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When photography becomes art I don’t believe that there is an essential requirement to entertain the viewer. I believe that when we initially look at a piece of work we should not be egocentric to the point of expecting that it should be required to please us in that moment. Its not hatred but indifference which is the enemy of art. In fact often when I get the impression that something is there to entertain then it seems to me somewhat contrived and artificial, forced even. When art is effective it allows us to question our own preconceptions; what we thought we knew until that point. This conversation with ourselves allows us re-establish what we believe to be correct; morally, ethically or otherwise. This I believe is what gives it real social value, not merely its associated hype or price tag. More often these factors are distractions from the essential message.

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I’m a big believer in the photo story as a means of projecting expression. While an image in itself may be poignant, the sequence allows ideas to form and solidify without the necessity to resort too much to explanatory words. This is when the photo story begins to shine.. when we come to feel and know things that precede and even supersede the explanation in words. I think Escape from Life somewhat succeeds in this regard.

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You can find out more about Md Enamul Kabir here..

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