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9 772171 789008

ISSN 2171-7893

03

ISSUE 3


Community, Content and Context

SCREENPROJECTS.ORG

©Karen Mirzoyan

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A PAN-ASIAN POINT OF VIEW

PUNCTUM NETWORK REZA DEGHATI SHAHIDUL ALAM MATTHIEU FOSS ALEXANDER SUPARTONO HIDEKO KATAOKA BOHNCHANG KOO CHRISTIAN CAUJOLLE VJ VILLAFRANCA LISA BOTOS SHEN CHAO-LIANG ELLIE DOMIT HESTER KEJISER ASLON ARFA MANIT SRIWANICHPOOM


CONTENTS EDITORIAL STATEMENT COLOUR THERAPY

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THAILAND Photographer Ampannee Satoh Curated by Manit Sriwanichpoom Burkha series

SHAME ON WOMEN WITH NO TATTOOS

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PHILIPPINES Photographer Jake Verzosa Curated by VJ Villafranca The Last Tattooed Women of Kalinga series

TOMORROW NEVER COMES

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AFGHANISTAN Photographer Fardin Wahezi Curated by Reza Deghati

WHITE NIGHTS

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TAIWAN Photographer Cheng-Chang Wu Curated by Shen Chao-Liang Vision of Taiwan series

PANAM’S GHOSTS

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BANGLADESH Photographer Rasel Chowdhury Curated by Shahidul Alam Before the End series

FAMILY THREE UAE / YEMEN Photographer Boushra Curated by Elie Domit / Hester Kejiser The Hijab/Veil series 2 | punctum

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND

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IRAN Photographer Yasha Vakili Curated by Aslon Arfa

PRAYER

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KOREA Photographer Jiyeon Lee Curated by Bohnchang Koo

EVERYMAN

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INDONESIA Photographer Angki Purbandono Curated by Alex Supartono Top Collection series

THE BOMB PONDS

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CAMBODIA Photographer Vandy Rattana Curated by Christian Caujolle

OPPOSITE ATTRACTION

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JAPAN Photographer Cozue Takagi Curated by Hideko Kataoka insider series Courtesy of TARO NASU

THE AFFAIR

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INDIA Photographer Pat Curated by Matthieu Foss

TRAPS

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SINGAPORE Photographer Zhao Renhui Curated by Lisa Botos

CHALO PAKISTAN

GeTXOPHOTO

umeei gorazarre / iN PraiSe of CHiLDHooD

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PAKISTAN Photographer Ali Sultan The Road series

CREDITS

Argazki Jaialdia / Photography Festival

Iraila / September 2012

Getxo, Basque Country (Spain) © Vee Speers

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Roger Ballen / Jill Greenberg / Paola de Grenet / Jonathan Hobin / Jan Von Holleben / Frieke Janssens / Sofie Knijff / Margaret M. de Lange / Jacqueline Roberts / Alessandra Sanguinetti / Robin Schwartz / Vee Speers / Ilona Szwarc / Javier Tles / Jon Uriarte / Tereza Vlcˇková / JeongMee Yoon / O Zhang Curator: Frank Kalero antolatzailea / organizer

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babesleak / sponsors

laguntzailea / collaborator


EDITORIAL STATEMENT Back in the 1950s, American documentary photographer and photojournalist Dorothea Lange wrote that “the tropics, and it may be Asia, cannot be photographed in black-and-white film”. Was she expressing her own fears of not being able to cope, photographically speaking, with the continent? Are her words outdated today? Can photography today represent Asia in all its diversity, with a sense of coherence? As photography editors, we at Punctum address a similar dilemma. Can we select photo essays that pay homage to Asian heterogeneity while at the same time maintaining high aesthetic and documentary standards? And who gets to tell what story, how, where? In our third issue, we continue to try to do so; we hope you will appreciate that each of our sometimes wildly different photo essays tells a compelling story, in its own way. Jake Verzosa highlights the remarkable tattoos marking the bodies of Kalinga Filipino women – using the same black-andwhite mode Lange doubted. Thailand’s Ampannee Satoh takes us on a colour therapy tour using burkha-clad women who wander around the globe. Ali Sultan’s street pictures of Pakistan portray a world in which, as writer Naresh Fernandes comments in the accompanying text, “men long past a decent retirement age” grow old grinding fruit juice. Angki Purbandono invites the reader to consider the universal qualities of kitsch, its expression no different in Indonesia than elsewhere. These are but a sample of the fourteen narrations, from fourteen Asian countries, which make up Punctum 3. With each issue, we confront, more and more, the simultaneous irrelevance and strength afforded by borders. The curation of a pan-Asian photography magazine, which we intended as a much-needed forum for Asian work, is necessarily guided by geography and the need to be locally representative - yet its reach, we hope, transcends boundaries. And to add to the mix, several photo essays are accompanied by insightful texts written, this time, by authors from India who interact with the Asia we are shown. It is our way of furthering the fruitful dialogue between words and images, in other words, between one native perspective and another; in a world where colour and black-and-white can collaborate to represent Asia. The Editors 6 | punctum

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EVENING RAGAS

Young Elephant, 1992. © Derry Moore / TASVEER

DERRY MOOR E

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SEASON SEVEN EXHIBITIONS As part of its seventh season, Tasveer is pleased to announce the following shows:

RAGHU RAI: DIVINE MOMENTS STILL LIFE: THE OBJECT IN INDIAN PHOTOGRAPHY MAÏMOUNA GUERRESI: INNER SPACE MAGNUM KE TASVEER: MAGNUM’S VISION OF INDIA HIKARI: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHY FROM JAPAN DERRY MOORE: EVENING RAGAS

Tasveer is delighted to announce a solo exhibition of photographs by the esteemed British photographer Derry Moore. The show will travel to Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Ahmedabad. For more information, please visit the Tasveer website.

More information on all forthcoming exhibitions can be found on the Tasveer website.

Sua House, 26/1, Kasturba Cross Road, Bangalore-560001, India

Sua House, 26/1, Kasturba Cross Road, Bangalore-560001, India

WWW.TASVEERARTS.COM

WWW.TASVEERARTS.COM


COLOUR THERAPY THAILAND Photographer Ampannee Satoh Curated by Manit Sriwanichpoom

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THE WANDERING BURKHA

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he bastards were shutting down early. There were usually at least eight paanwallahs on this little stretch and till last week, not one of them would even think of shutting shop before midnight. The first to fold up his stall was generally that Tamil fellow and the last Babua the Bihari, who insisted he was from Uttaranchal, and was popular in this neighbourhood for staying open past midnight. But not today. It was barely 11.30 pm and the wooden shutters of Babua’s shop were closed. Two boys were standing in front of it, incredulous, as though the light had gone out of their world because Babua the paanwallah had gone to sleep. Behind them, a white jeep, marked “POLICE”, moved down the street so slowly you’d think it was being pushed rather than driven. Its occupants felt a disappointment that was no less than what the boys were feeling. Because for the two policemen inside, Babua had been the last hope of the night. It was Wednesday, the middle of the week. People had to go to office tomorrow. The chances of post-midnight drunken driving were low, even in this posh, foreignerinfested neighbourhood. (Not that you could do much with foreigners. They were offlimits and in any case, most didn’t seem to carry much cash on their persons.) In these circumstances, the paanwallahs were the only ones to whom Inspector Hadpude and Constable Lad could turn. Today, however, there was no one to haul up for staying open too late or selling imported cigarettes; every one of the bastards had decided that it was better to not make any money than to cough up a couple of thousand to the friendly

neighbourhood policemen. Not that Inspector Hadpude could complain tonight. He had managed a fairly good haul from the little strip two streets away: Four wine shops, three restaurants and six paanwallahs was brisk business. Plus, he and Lad had caught four tipsy drivers; an unexpected bonus on a weekday. One of the drivers, of course, had given them his watch instead of cash because this champion, with his American-accented Hindi, didn’t carry cash, only cards. Lad was getting the watch. He was young, he liked shiny toys. Hadpude was now too senior, in age as well as experience, to go around hawking watches. He settled back in his seat and rued that Babua had played it safe. Forget the bribe, a nice, sweet, juicy paan would have been a perfect way to end the night. A plate of chicken lollipops at Paradise before going home had become something of a habit for Hadpude. The Shetty who ran the joint was a pleasant, oily man. Over the years, this Shetty and Hadpude had developed something that wasn’t quite a friendship but was definitely more than an acquaintanceship. Shetty gave Hadpude chicken lollipops, a drink and a corner table where Hadpude had the peace and privacy to count his extra curricular earnings. It was as simple as that. Hadpude’s first boss in the police service had taught him that being organized was the most important skill for a government servant. People could catch you out otherwise. So, no matter how small or big the amount, every time Hadpude made some money, he organized it. First according to denomination and then, on the basis of allocations. There was his wife’s punctum | 11


share, his fund for the car, the girls’ studies, general savings and the holiday account. By the time he’d figured out how much money was going where, a few notes bore oily, reddish fingerprints on them and the chicken lollipops were usually over. He would put the money in separate plastic bags, all of which went into his bigger bag, and then go up to Shetty, ask after his family and health, and go home. Today, however, the plate of chicken lollipops was virtually untouched. Hadpude ordered a second whisky. The money sat unsorted and ignored. All of Hadpude’s attention was on the photographs spread out on the table. With his eyes trained on the photographs before him, Hadpude emptied his glass. One of the envelopes had contained not money but photos of some Muslim woman. There was some money in there, but it was small change. Literally; chillar, coins with one and two marked on them, and from foreign countries. Nine photos and foreign chillar. Hadpude cursed himself for having given Lad the watch. He bit into a chicken lollipop. If only he could figure out which bastard Bihari paanwallah had given them this envelope, he’d teach the little runt a lesson the bastard wouldn’t forget. Then again, it may not have been one of the paanwallahs. What paanwallah kept foreign chillar? Maybe it was one of the restaurants or one of the drivers. Hadpude tried to remember who had given them this envelope. There was nothing distinctive about it. It was white, it was creased. All the restaurants and bars on their beat gave Hadpude and Lad their money in envelopes like this one because Hadpude let them know he was not some uncouth illiterate who just stuffed cash in his pockets. Unfortunately, the classy way in which Hadpude took bribes was of little consequence at the moment because it meant 12 | punctum

there was no way Hadpude could tell who had given him photos of a girl in a damned burkha instead of a bribe. Lad would take that watch to one of those traders who had Saudi connections and sell it for Rs 10,000. Maybe more. While he had a faceless bitch in multicoloured burkhas. Who the hell wore a red burkha anyway? Suddenly, Hadpude couldn’t bear to count his money. He stuffed it all into one envelope and put it in his bag. “Saheb?” Hadpude looked up to see Shetty standing by, a glass of whisky in his hand. Great. Small talk. That was just what Hadpude needed right now. “Shetty,” he replied with a quick nod. “All well with you, saheb?” “Yes, yes. And you?” “God is great, saheb.” Hadpude grunted. “Everything okay, saheb?” Shetty asked again. “I mean, you don’t generally take more than one drink.” “I’m fine, Shetty.” Hadpude looked at the photos on the table and idly moved them around. Shetty looked at them with careful curiosity. “Are you working on a case, saheb?” he asked tentatively. And that was when every muscle in Hadpude’s body became as still as hardened cement. He felt as though he had swallowed grenades – with their pins taken out – instead of a chicken lollipop. He looked at Shetty’s face and then down at the photographs. He babbled in his gruffest, most inspectorial voice; something about needing some peace and quiet and another whisky and the man immediately nodded and left. Hadpude took up the photos again. Slowly, he arranged them into three columns. Even in Paradise, where there were more shadows than there was light, the punctum | 13


photographs gleamed like jewels. A woman in a burkha. In five of the photos, she stood in front of monuments. One of them was the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It was strange to see not Shammi Kapoor or another Bollywood star, but a woman in a red burkha in front of that tourist attraction. Hadpude couldn’t place the others but he was sure they were foreign. These photographs couldn’t be in India. A woman in a burkha. World monuments. Sweat broke out all over his face, even on the sliver of skin between his nostrils and the start of his moustache. He swallowed, even though the saliva in his mouth had dried up. He didn’t want to put it in words but once you’ve thought a thought, it’s there in your head and you can’t unthink it. In the process of taking bribes on a random Wednesday night, had Inspector Hadpude chanced upon a global terror plot? His finger trembled as he touched one of the pictures, as though it hoped the images would melt away, like a hallucination. But they didn’t. Hadpude gathered his belongings. It was time to go home. On his way home, he wondered if he should share his fears with one of his colleagues. But who could he talk to? After all, the envelopes were evidence of money he wasn’t supposed to have. Who could Hadpude trust to not take advantage of knowing he took bribes? What if they thought he was an accomplice? A Muslim woman, face covered, standing alone in front of world monuments. Who had taken the photographs? How was it possible that there was no one else in them? Where were these places? What if the monuments were targets? Was it a map? There could be a code just in the choice of colours. No one wore a yellow or a purple burkha. Hadpude had been stationed in Muslim localities. He had a Muslim friend or two. He’d never seen 14 | punctum

the likes of these technicolour burkhas. Once again, Hadpude wished he had taken the watch and left this bit of the collection for Lad. That night, Hadpude dreamt he was receiving a medal for having foiled a worldwide terrorist plot. He saw himself giving interviews. He saw some of the world’s most powerful leaders telling news channels that Inspector Hadpude was a hero and the entire world was grateful that it was he who had chanced upon the photographs that had, thanks to the brilliant inspector’s deduction skills, saved millions of people from certain death. He also had nightmares in which he was gagged, his hands and legs were tied and he was in a dark place. He could see through a rectangular opening at eye level. Outside was a camera on a tripod. It flashed and Hadpude felt blinded. Someone waved a photograph in front of him. It showed a burkha-clad person and Hadpude knew that it was a picture of him. Under that burkha – it was red in colour – he was trussed up and unable to move. Then everything tilted. There was a horrible sound, like the earth was bellowing in pain. He felt himself falling. He felt his vocal chords tauten and tense as they tried to push out a cry, a wail, anything. But the gag soaked every scrap of his scream and he knew it was a matter of seconds before his body would break into pieces, like a glass thrown on the floor. In short, Hadpude had a terrible night. His attempts to free himself from the restraints that rendered him immobile in his nightmare resulted in his kicking his wife – twice. According to Hadpude’s mobile, it was 4.32 am when he gave up trying to go to sleep. He got up and, as quietly as he could, found his bag and the photographs in it. Taking them out, he tiptoed his way to the kitchen where he shut the door and then turned on the light. Hadpude stared at punctum | 15


the photos again. He needed to figure out a little more about them before speaking to his superiors, but he needed to do this subtly. It wouldn’t do to be known as the policeman who went around carrying photographs of a dubious Muslim on his person. Plus, it was a woman. Who knew what started rumours? Was it even just one woman? He peered at the photos. Four of them were taken against a backdrop of a sea that was too blue to be Indian. In one, she had her back to the camera. She was wearing a black burkha and looking out at the horizon. Hadpude found himself remembering the story of Kanyakumari who waited for her lover by the seaside and was heartbroken when she realized he wasn’t coming to marry her. A truck honked as it rattled past on the road outside. Hadpude blinked and focused on the photograph in his hand. It really wasn’t done to see a goddess in a potential terrorist. He bit his tongue, muttered an apologetic prayer and sternly told himself to not get distracted. Hadpude separated the sea photos from the monument photos. He needed to find clues. His elder daughter could help him figure out where the monument photos had been taken. She was a quiz champion and always scored top marks in geography. She would know. He also made a mental note to pick up a few English newspapers tomorrow – no, today – to see if there was anything in them that would help him work out if the places in the photos were targets. Which left him with the sea photos. Hadpude made his way back to the bedroom and found the magnifying glass his wife kept on the little dressing table. Back in the kitchen, he floated it over the photographs. They seemed to leap towards him, suddenly lifelike. He could see every blue curve on the waves of the sea. The satiny material of the burkha shone where it caught the sunlight. It stretched, dipped, 16 | punctum

billowed and moulded against her body because of the wind. The magnifying glass inched down her form, past the arc of her covered head, along the fluid lines of windpuffed material. Hadpude didn’t blink. He just looked. His eyes travelled from head to toe, from photo to photo. They rested at certain points, lingered over pools of shining colour, slipped past flat sections. Through the magnifying glass, the figure in the photograph wasn’t tiny. It came up close, almost life-size, almost near enough to feel the slither of the satin of her burkha. He realized it wasn’t the same woman, at least not in the sea photos. Blue had a slight belly and small breasts. Red had long, slim legs and the wind was pulling at the lower part of her burkha in a way that suggested you could cup her between her legs. She was standing as though she wanted you to do it, to just fit your hand in that darkened, shadowed bit. Hadpude switched off the light. He wasn’t going to tell anyone. Maybe it was nothing and even if it was part of a terrorist plot, the targets were obviously abroad and it wasn’t as though uncovering one would really stop those lunatics from concocting some other plan. Light was breaking outside and it leaked in lazily through the kitchen window. Hadpude put all the nine photographs in one envelope and returned to his bedroom. With the envelope under his pillow, his cheek felt like it was being warmed by the photographs, a comforting caress that was as smooth as satin and filled the darkness behind his closed eyelids with jewel colours. And just like that, Hadpude fell asleep.

Text by Deepanjana Pal

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SHAME ON WOMEN WITH NO TATTOOS PHILIPPINES Photographer Jake Verzosa Curated by VJ Villafranca

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Kalinga chant Awad kad da dinuras Angoy ate ab-abigas Awad kad da Binatok Anngoy ate daran ne wandok

Shame on the women with no tattoos They pass only at side trails and precipice But behold those with tattoos They always take the centre trails

And gentlemen would say: Piyan de anginkuw’a Ate bobae ye mandiga piyan de umabaya neck, umman kad anwagwagay’ya moryad ta eh angila dogan ni indiddiga umman ta kad ipasda – te anas sasa ya jewels, amod pa gay dinuma Atta gannanawa Kan kanogos mandiga Piyan de angab abayaGattok ke gannawa Innamin na inig-gaGallit de tabbaliga – Ate-nasob-an ni abara akin Ummna ta kad iyabaya Gammat de gammayananaYa umman ta nailma – Sap-aram kad ate bara A’dipon da mabig’ah’ Batok ko allugamma Gattok ko umoy impakwa Isun de dalliwannga Maumas kad da kukuwa Taynan da didad luta Nu maag ta miwagga Adipon pagay Maura Ilnok ta te libon ta Dakoppun ak panpani atte koon da iyaawi annaya de did diga annawa ya mandiga ya ad otyan maura nu inkami maiwagga

Lucky is the one who will claim the fairest lady who is adorned with tattoos on her arms and as she walks with her arms in cadence she is a beauty to behold her tattoos add to her attractiveness as I look closely with her flowing black tresses and even with no she stands out from the rest with her tattooed arms and to the gentlemen The ladies would say Lucky is the one who will put her head on the shoulder of the finest gentleman who is handsomely tattooed with all the artistic designs akin to the colourful skin to the colourful skin of a snake gently will I rest my head and smooth my fingers on his chest and together in deep slumber with our hands clasped in love and care These tattoos that adorn me That I have endured the pain Are like the precious heirloom beads But these are earthly possessions If ever I die and be gone Can be lost and be left on earth But this body art can never be lost And I shall bring it to my grave It is not only to follow or imitate the tradition of our elders of yesterday. But we are a living canvas of tradition, and as living vessels of an art that speaks of beauty and strength, hopefully it will not die with us.

Thanks to Katy Naty Sugguiyao, head of the National Commission of Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), for providing the texts of Kalinga Chant

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TOMORROW NEVER COMES AFGHANISTAN Photographer Fardin Wahezi Curated by Reza Deghati

Afghan boy plays in front of the Darul-Aman Palace, the residence of former kings of Afghanistan. ISAF took control of the palace in 2005 and since then there has, unfortunately, been no reconstruction effort around this historic Afghan landmark, about 16 kilometres outside Kabul.

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Previous spread clockwise

This spread

Afghan men pose during a national bodybuilding competition at Areyub Cinema in the western part of Kabul city, May 12, 2010. Hundreds of competitors enter the annual competition, organized by Afghanistan’s national Olympic organisation, to vie for the title of Mr Afghanistan.

A crowd gathers to view the blood sport in which game dogs, usually livestock-guardian mixtures, are made to fight; very often to death. Dog fighting is presumed to have existed since the initial domestication of the species, and is a long-standing tradition in the documented history of Afghanistan.

A boy sells balloons during Eid E-Qurban, Kabul.

A donkey carries a ballot box to be transported to a village where roads for vehicles do not exist, the day before parliamentary elections are held, in Panjshir province, north of Kabul, September 17, 2010.

Many Afghan children are required to work, and this includes heavy manual labour. June 12 was World Day Against Child Labour, a day of advocacy to help achieve the global target of eliminating child labour by 2016. The United Nations works with Afghan authorities, civil society organisations and communities to address the causes of child labour and to protect the rights of children. Improving the lives of ordinary Afghans is a key focus of the Government of Afghanistan, supported by the international community, at the upcoming Kabul Conference on July 20. The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development has initiated a new US $78 million project aimed at boosting rural economies by providing business capital and market linkages. The project began in April in Parwan, Bamyan, Nangarhar, Balkh, Badakhshan and Herat.

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Left A young Afghan man sits on the ground, at work in a traditional dried fruit processing factory in Kabul. This page Children playing in a pasture, Wakhan district, Badakhshan province.

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An old Afghan man sits with his air shotgun in the Macrorayan area of Kabul to earn a living for his family, Kabul.

Eighty-four-year-old Habiburahman, from Bagrami district, sits on his bed and reads a local newspaper, Kabul.

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A de-mining team from the Mine Detection Centre with a member of the German police who is mentoring them, Kabul.

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Young women in the indoor skating park of the NGO Skateistan set up by American volunteers to help young Afghans improve their skateboarding and indoor rock climbing skills.

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WHITE NIGHTS TAIWAN Photographer Cheng-Chang Wu Curated by Shen Chao-Liang

Taihsi 2009

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T

he Vision of Taiwan series of images expresses personal observations, experiences and opinions of the environment of Taiwan. “Photography” has been a means for me to find emotional relief. The photographing process; I stood inside a space and photographed myself with long exposure by flashing my face with multiple flashes using a hand-held flashlight. The intense flashes enable the releasing of emotion, and the property of photosensitive materials that accumulates light and allows “overexposure” to be produced in an “out of control” manner and causes temporary “blindness” or “loss of sight” in human faces, and beyond the visual aesthetics in the visual expression form the “environmental” issues and the conflicting perception of “aesthetics” hidden behind the visual perspectives, insinuating the absurdity and conflicts that exist in the environment. Behind the image of a beautiful scenery hide absurd objects and environmental crises. A “human figure billboard” faces the public indifferently without any facial expressions. The face of the existing environment seems to have lost the “real world” to a vacuum of the situation; therefore one can only “look without seeing” when facing current situations in the surroundings. The Vision of Taiwan series offers views from the “documentary photography” aspects of recognition of the relations between humans and our surroundings and the “surrealism” aspects of calm criticism. Although it does show a certain level of disappointment and pessimism towards the current state of Taiwan’s environment, it still holds an ideal of expectation of “life reform”.

Text by Cheng-Chang Wu Betel-nut stall 2007

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Kenting South Bay 2008

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Driftwood 2009

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Crossover bridge 2008

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Billboards 2011

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Jia dong-1 2011

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Countryside 2011

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jia dong-1 2011 jia dong-1 2011

Baseball field 2011

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Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall 2008

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PANAM’S GHOSTS BANGLADESH Photographer Rasel Chowdhury Curated by Shahidul Alam

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Before the End There once was a city full of countless kings, queens, princes and ministers, militia and commoners. It was a city which was connected to all other parts of the nation. It had it all: joy, glory, sorrow and misery. Yes, today I think of Panam Nagar. It was born almost 400 years ago; in 1611, Raja Isha Kha pronounced it Bengal’s capital. It remained our capital till the late 19th century, but today, only fifty to sixty people live here with their 15 families. Twenty to 25 houses still remain unbroken. Most of the residents of this forgotten city are Hindu and quite poor, without a house of their own. In 2003, the archeology department of Bangladesh took the initiative of preserving Panam Nagar. In 2006, the World Monument Fund listed this city on its watch list of the 100 most endangered sites. When I first visited the city in 1999, it had a sense of life, and there were more houses than there are today. In the last ten years, everything has changed drastically. Now, there are less people and more empty houses. All these old, vacant houses seem to have the smell of death. I went to Panam as a visitor and returned as a photographer, my role defined by my engagement with this city. My childhoods history books did not portray the same Panam Nagar of today. I still wonder when I look at this forgotten, tainted city. Text by Rasel Chowdhury

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FAMILY THREE UAE / YEMEN Photographer Boushra Almutawakel Curated by Elie Domit / Hester Kejiser

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I first started the series on the hijab or veil while attending photography school, where I attended a lecture by the Egyptian feminist writer Nawal Elsadawi. One of the most memorable things she said at the lecture, that she felt that women who wore the hijab or nigab (a form of veil that leaves only the eyes showing, sometimes also worn with a sheer black veil over it), were the same as women who wore makeup; in the sense that they all hid their true identities. I thought that was a fascinating perspective, and so decided to interpret this photographically. Until then, I had been reluctant to create work on the hijab, mostly because it was such a powerful iconic image which inherently conjured strong emotions. Also because I felt it had been over-used, and I wanted to stay clear of reproducing stereotypes. However, after September 11, I was compelled to create images of the veil; Islam, Muslims, their beliefs and way of life, had taken international center stage and I found that Arabs and Muslims were either demonized or romanticized. Part of this paradoxical depiction is the way Middle Eastern women have been portrayed artistically (and/or in the media): as exotic, beautiful, mysterious, or helpless, oppressed and ugly. Part of this portrayal, in many cases has included the hijab. As an Arab Muslim woman living in Yemen with firsthand experience with the hijab, I have mixed feelings regarding this topic. There are certain aspects of the hijab that I like and others I don’t particularly care for. I don’t believe it is black or white. I found the veil to be an intriguing, complex, multilayered topic. Wearing the hijab can be at times comforting and even liberating. The hijab I wear includes a headscarf and is usually accompanied by a long black abaya or a light, Western knee-length coat. I don’t have to worry about what is underneath, how my hair looks. Also, since the abaya is loose-fitting, it conceals the shape of my body, so I feel safe and secure that my body is private and will not be

something for others to look at. Other times, however, the hijab can feel hot and constricting. Under the sun, I sometimes feel like I am in a pressure cooker. Also, because my ears are covered, sometimes I have difficulty hearing. When I have worn the niqab, it has been truly liberating and quite powerful in the sense that I have true anonymity; no one can see me or know who I am, yet I can see everyone. But when it is hot, it can also be suffocating at times. And when I meet with women who I know and they are wearing the niqab, I can’t recognize them or hear them that well, when they speak. I think it all comes down to what one is used to. For example my mother wears the niqab in the form of the sharshaf, an older style veil worn in Yemen. She loves it and is most comfortable wearing that kind of veil. In this ongoing project on the hijab, I want to explore the many faces and facets of the veil based on my own personal experiences and observations: the choice, or not, of wearing the hijab, the convenience, freedom, strength, the power, liberation, limitations, danger, humour, irony, the variety, cultural, social, and religious aspects, the beauty, mystery, the hijab as a form of self expression, protection, the veil as not solely an Arab or Middle Eastern phenomenon, the trends, the history and politics of the hijab, as well as differing interpretations, and fear in regards to it. I also want to be careful not to fuel the stereotypical widespread negative images most commonly used in the Western media; particularly the notion that most or all women who wear the hijab are weak, oppressed, ignorant and backward. Furthermore, I hope to challenge and look at both Western and Middle Eastern stereotypes, fears, and ideas regarding the veil. Text by Boushra Almutawakel

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MAN’S BEST FRIEND IRAN Photographer Yasha Vakili Curated by Aslon Arfa

Sepehr and Piano

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Eliya and Sherly

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t is very unusual for people to hear that residents of an Islamic country own pets, particularly dogs. In Islam dogs are seen as filthy and are not usually kept as pets; the Islamic legal tradition has, in fact, developed several injunctions that warn Muslims against most contact with them. However, owning a pet is not unheard of and uncommon in Iran, also known as Persia and famous for its Persian cats. People of different religions, ethnicities and, therefore, cultures live together in Iran. The majority are Shiite Muslims, and Zoroastrians, Jews and Christians also live here. People of Azeri and Kurdish ethnicity live in the northwest of Iran, Arabs live in the south, and Turkmen reside in the northeast. This diversity is evidence of how Iran is a combination of many various cultures, and, at least in some areas, is completely different 88 | punctum

Milad and Unique-Pershi

from other Islamic countries such as Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. Keeping pets is an issue. As Iran is an Islamic country which is ruled by Islamic laws, it might be assumed that all its citizens observe Islamic rules through laws set by the government; however, not all people closely obey these rules in their private lives. For example, satellite receivers are illegal but a large number of Iranians have them. Lawmakers in Iran have recently proposed a bill in Parliament that would criminalize dog ownership, formally establishing punishment for offenders within the country’s Islamic penal code. The bill warns that that in addition to posing public health hazards, the popularity of dog ownership “also poses a cultural problem, a blind imitation of the vulgar culture of the West”. And according to Time magazine, the law

rules that the offending animal is confiscated, and a $100 to $500 fine is levied on the owner. The fate of confiscated dogs remains uncertain. “Considering the several thousand dogs [that are kept] in Tehran alone, the problem arises as to what is going to happen to these animals.” (“The Latest Enemies of Iran: Dogs and their Owners”, Time, April 19, 2011). Despite all of this, many still tend to enjoy having pets – though, bearing all of this in mind, you can see why many do not like to be photographed in their homes. Some are hesitant due to tradition, religious beliefs and culture; others do not like it because they are afraid they will attract censure. In most cases, you cannot take photos of some daily routines of a typical Iranian family in their own homes for this reason. Yasha, however, has managed to go inside

the houses of some people (there is no official estimate regarding how many they number) who keep pets and has taken pictures of their interactions. With these photos, he has not only shown us the pets, but also and maybe more importantly, has given us images from inside the houses of Iranians. The media usually shows either people marching and showing hostility towards the US and Israel, or the hidden life of some young ones throwing wild parties and using drugs. Through these pictures we can see how some Iranian people live, what they wear, and how their houses look from the inside: an Iran which is very different from what we usually see. Text by Aslon Arfa

Hyunjung and Ji-in 2008

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Hesam and Gabic

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Afshin and Nancy

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Farnaz and Shirzad

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Reza and Omac

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PRAYER KOREA Photographer Jiyeon Lee Curated by Bohnchang Koo

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EVERYMAN INDONESIA Photographer Angki Purbandono Curated by Alex Supartono

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THE BOMB PONDS CAMBODIA Photographer Vandy Rattana Curated by Christian Caujolle

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In October 2009 photographer Vandy Rattana travelled to the ten Cambodian provinces most severely bombed by the US military during the Vietnam War. The goal of this journey was to reopen dialogue with local villagers about this traumatic history and document the scarred landscape, as it exists today. Between 1964 and 1975 the US military dropped 2,756,941 tonnes of explosives across Cambodia. This figure – five times the generally accepted number – was not acknowledged until 2000 when Bill Clinton travelled to Vietnam and quietly released previously classified Air Force data on American bombings in former Indochina. Dissatisfied with the level of documentation produced on the subject, Vandy has created a series of landscape photographs testifying to the existence of the craters created by the bombings, known today as the “bomb ponds”. These photographs are accompanied by a film in which villagers were asked to describe their memories of the bombings or their present relationship to the history symbolized by the craters. Text by Francesca Sonara

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OPPOSITE ATTRACTION JAPAN Photographer Cozue Takagi Curated by Hideko Kataoka

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A person split right down the middle. The right half controls the left brain, while the left half controls the right. Controlled by different brains, the right and left are completely different persons. By means of photography, I bring out the representational world of the two people that lie hidden inside a single person. These two people look very much alike but each have their own distinct emotions and will. An interest in people was the driving force that gave birth to this work. Spirit and body, brain and soul, consciousness and unconsciousness – these are the things that I want to articulate. – Cozue Takagin, insider Series

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REMEMBER?

W

e never stopped at simply remembering. Instead we talked about what we remembered, a decision that immediately made us competitive historians. I remember thinking at my desk one night – or it might have been the bedroom one afternoon – that if we continued this way, we’d end up unhinged. When I brought it up with her, she told me I had forgotten it was her idea, and that there was no bedroom or desk because it had struck her in the shower. Like this we wrote each other a mutually unacceptable past: big events couldn’t be disputed but their details could, and I wondered if we’d come apart one day not because of who we were, but what we had made our previous selves. She said my mother was amazed that I’d begun eating mushrooms when we first dated. It’s true that I’d hated them until she asked me to close my eyes at this Mediterranean looking place one evening. I remember catching a whiff of something strange and warm, and I opened my eyes just as she placed the spoon between my lips. She pulled it away, emptied and stained with streaks of green, asking me what I thought of it. I can’t explain what happened, but I decided I liked mushrooms then, and I couldn’t remember why I hadn’t liked them before. When she heard this, I remember mum laughing in the kitchen at how simply it was done. But I don’t remember her being amazed. Then we married, and I can’t remember what

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happened. We went places and did things that only she recalled fluently. I remembered these trips, but the experiences she described felt like fiction. I never told her that, so I simply said that I had no memory of it. She’d say “oh”, and look down like I’d robbed her of making it fact. But sometimes I’d tell her that I remembered, and she’d grow excited and carry the complete memory through alone and end its telling with this smile. Some memories would be familiar, and I’d add to them excitedly because I really did remember, and that made her so glad. “I’m happy we’re together,” she’d say, because we had once imagined we’d look back at ourselves and at our life, and we’d hold hands as we remembered who we were. I think that’s why she needed me to remember. It had to be done together. She asked me if I’d remember her later, and I told her I wouldn’t forget her. We were walking up a mountain road, and had stopped at a gravelly edge that curved high above a school when she asked me this. I used to think she asked for reassurance. I didn’t know then, and neither did she, that in the end we aren’t keepers of our own biographies. She wanted her history preserved because, and I only knew this much later, I was her historian all along. I had lost myself to her a very long time ago. But of course she would have laughed and told me why I was wrong about this too. Text by Rahul Bhatia

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THE AFFAIR INDIA Photographer Pat Curated by Matthieu Foss

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“I used to think I told the truth until people started believing in my images.” – Zhao Renhui

TRAPS SINGAPORE Photographer Zhao Renhui Curated by Lisa Botos

A heartwarming feeling #471, after 710 days

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A heartwarming feeling #121, after 321 days

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A heartwarming feeling #243, after 321 days

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Orange-throated sunangel (Heliangelus mavors)

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Archival piezographic print Mus cypriacus (Cyprus)

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Archival piezographic print Rhine ring beater (Rheinische ringslager)

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Archival piezographic print Mus Caroli (Ryukyu islands, Taiwan and southern China to Thailand; introduced in Malaysia and western Indonesia)

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A heartwarming feeling #243, after 321 days

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A heartwarming feeling #645, after 641 days

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Z

A heartwarming feeling #1321, after 231 days

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hao Renhui’s work, at its core, is concerned with animals – and of particular interest is the human relationship to the “true” natural world. In his multivalent practice, Zhao questions dominant activist ideologies and scientific power structures that are widely accepted as the issuers of authoritative, constructed knowledge (that is, universal truths) regarding wildlife and “authentic” nature. He speaks of authenticity and artificiality; truth and fiction; subjectivity and objectivity, using the framework of science – purportedly “objective” – to examine the wild. He goes as far as to create the Institute of Critical Zoologists (ICZ) – a make-believe, virtual institution which appropriates the language and taxonomies of scientific establishments – as a platform from which to pervert and challenge orthodoxies exposing tensions and faultlines in the human-animal bond. Zhao notes that the ICZ “may not be truthful but it gives a much needed perspective – a realistic, twisted one – on the way we look at animals”. • As a starting point, Zhao develops an ecological narrative. The subject could be real or fabricated. The story has both authentic and constructed elements. Using scientific methodologies, he presents and classifies his research using photography as his dominant visual and aesthetic form, offering additional supporting documentation in the form of interviews, writings from “esteemed scientists” and presenting objects. At first, Zhao’s process appears to be detached, solely concerned with typological issues to glean “truths” about our threatened world. He eschews the emotional tropes typically used by environmental groups. Once an animal rights activist himself, he writes, “I am interested in the beliefs of activists that can influence our relationship with animals. I feel that sometimes activism causes a perspective

shift back to ourselves, in our relationship with looking at animals – we seem to be more caught up in our own feelings than those of the animals. There seems to be no correct way to define our relationship with animals. It always seems wrong. Activism can be strangely religious to some.” Zhao knows the public’s concerns well. He addresses the issues common to the discussion of extinction, around endangered species and distorted landscapes, but his perspective is primarily anthropological; scrutinizing the human side of the relationship. Ambivalence is palpable in his works. To the untrained eye, Zhao’s “science” may appear rigorous and authoritative. In truth, it contains partial or whole fictions, which negate the canonical place ‘real’ science has assumed in defining dominant modes of preservation. In “A Heartwarming Feeling”, Zhao attaches minipinhole cameras to migrating birds that have purportedly shifted their migratory pattern to the Arctic rather than flying south during winter. The reason? Global warming. The experiment was executed and the resulting abstract photographs – hauntingly beautiful and colorfully hued – are real, but much of the narrative attached to this body of work is fiction. The same is true of “The More We Get Together”, featuring stark still-lifes of animal traps set against a white, clinical background. Many of these absurd creations look as if they couldn’t possibly be functional or authentic, but they are! Zhao supplements his personal collection of traps with fake specimens. These fantastical sculptural forms appear to be as genuine as the rest, but they are in truth toothless. Presented as a museum collection, the whole serves, as Zhao explains, as “testimony to the constant violence we perpetrate against nature”.

Lisa Botos

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More endangered animals are in captivity than in the wild. – Zhao Renhui

A heartwarming feeling #243, after 321 days

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CHALO PAKISTAN PAKISTAN Photographer Ali Sultan

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M

y first trip to Pakistan was proving to be a crashing bore. For most of my waking hours, I’d been trapped in airconditioned rooms, listening to pious speeches. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The Karachi Press Club had invited colleagues from their Mumbai sister-institution to visit them and I’d begged the organizers to put me on the list. Until Partition, the city had been home to four generations of my father’s family. I’d spent my childhood listening to stories of the charmed world they’d left behind and hoping that I would, one day, obtain a coveted visa that would allow me to see the places I’d spent a lifetime walking through in my head. But when we got there, I discovered that our hosts had drawn up a water-tight schedule, conducting us from politician’s chambers to newspaper office to official

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banquet. At each venue, everyone on the dais would make passionate speeches about the shame of two people sharing a common culture and being subjected to a senseless divide. Someone from our delegation would rise to reply, urging that visa restrictions be eased to improve relations. Then our 22 names would be called out, and we’d ascend the podium by turn to have an ajrak – traditional Sindhi shawl – wrapped around us and a Sindhi topi, a flat hat with the front band cut away to expose the forehead, placed on our heads. Having participated in this exercise 12 times over our first two days, I gently informed our hosts that I’d like to wander off on my own. They were alarmed. Karachi, they explained, was a rather dangerous place and we needed to adhere to the itinerary they’d drawn up. It was why a Tempo filled

with armed policemen had been riding ahead of our bus since we’d left Jinnah International Airport. Going by the newspapers on our first morning, I could see their point. The front page of the News International’s city section carried a photo of our delegation, while an inside page reported that three people, the son of a senior policeman among them, had been shot dead. Dawn featured a photo of piles of tyres burning on Jinnah Road, not far from the Karachi Press Club: traders were “protesting… increasing lawlessness in commercial localities along the arterial road”. Elsewhere, a headline announced, “2000 chickens burnt as ANP leader’s murder sparks violence.” But despite the newspaper articles, I hadn’t actually seen any evidence of the violence as we’d been driven from one conclave to the

next. I wanted to sniff the pomegranates in the bazaars and the diesel fumes in the streets, to chat with students and shopkeepers and social workers. As I plotted my escape on day three of our week-long trip, I found an enthusiastic ally. A mutual friend had effected an email introduction to Murtaza Razvi, the 46-year-old editor of Dawn’s magazines, and as I sat in despair through yet another official luncheon, he materialised at my table. He was short in stature but had a tall plan: he was going to pile as many of us into his car as he could and show us as much of Karachi as time permitted. But first, he led us to the terrace of the hotel in which we’d been eating. The city rolled out as far as the eye could see, a patchwork of Indo-Saracenic monuments, glass-fronted office buildings, shanty towns and a shimmery stretch of beach. Over the next couple of days, to the horror punctum | 187


of our hosts, I abandoned the official schedule and allowed Murtaza to lead me through the landscape we’d seen from the 20th floor. We explored slums and the seafront, glittering malls and working-class eateries. We couldn’t have had a better guide to Karachi – and Pakistani life. Murtaza had moved to Karachi from Lahore and was in love with his adopted city’s easy urbanity. He’d written two books: one about General Musharraf and another interviewing “ordinary Pakistanis” about their country. Now, he was working on a collection of short stories. Murtaza, I learnt, could hold conversations in English, Urdu, Persian, French and German. I had dinner at his home in Defence on two nights, and met his wife, who wrote TV scripts during the day and a relationships advice column in Dawn on the weekend. 188 | punctum

Their three daughters had Indian names, a defiant gesture against fundamentalism. The Razvi home was enormous by Mumbai standards – with an important difference. Like the other homes in the neighbourhood, its guard wielded an automatic rifle by the gate and some rooms had “panic buttons” that would set off an alarm in the office of a private security company if bandits attacked. The Razvis, like almost everyone else I’d run into in Karachi, had been robbed at gunpoint before, and lived with the knowledge that it would most likely happen again. No children played in the street: to do so was to risk abduction. Except for that, it could have been Mumbai. Though I wanted to see how life in Pakistan was different from our lives across the border, it was the areas of congruence

that kept jumping out at me. Karachi’s colonial buildings appear exactly like the ones in Bombay (their Frere Hall and our University Convocation Hall are twins); their bureaucrats, cast from the same steel frame as ours, trap them in schemes and abbreviations of similar idiocy. But most recognizable, by far, were the lines of struggle etched on the faces of the people in the street. Urchins looking for scrap in cesspools, old men long past a decent retirement age grinding fruit juice, labourers quenching their thirst on a scorching day – if there’s one thing that profoundly unites our nations, it’s the urgent despair of poverty. I returned to Mumbai with 23 ajraks and Sindhi topis, which would make excellent Christmas presents for cousins visiting from the US, and notebooks crammed with

insights I’d have missed had it not been for Murtaza’s generosity. In April, just over four months after my trip, I saw a Twitter message from one of his colleagues at Dawn, followed by a flurry of tweets from others: Murtaza had been shot; no, strangled. His body had been dumped on the street. It was a political killing; no, he’d been found dead in a friend’s home, and his body bore torture marks. Three days later, the police arrested a man for Murtaza’s murder. The suspect, they said, had hit him in the face with a glass, tied him up and strangled him with string, making off with his cellphone and wallet. They have had no more reports about the case since then.

Text by Naresh Fernandes

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punctum issue 1i1 2012

published by www.limonkraft.org C/ Creu dels Molers 40, 1. 08004. Barcelona Spain G-16 Nizamuddin West New Delhi 110013 India editor frank kalero executive editor lola mac dougall literary editor rajni george consulting editor trabulsi& niemand (bossanovafilms) graphic design incarnations cover typo design prem ramachandran advisory board reza deghati shahidul alam matthieu foss alexander supartono hideko kataoka bohnchang koo christian caujolle vj villafranca lisa botos shen chao-liang elie domit hester keijser manit sriwanichpoom aslon arfa acknowledgements nikhil padgaonkar natalie grier proofreading shyama warner advertising and sales sales@punctum.asia issn : 2171-7893 rni no. : applied for printed in india by naveen printers * this issue has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the japan foundation, new delhi

all rights reserved. no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of the publishers text Š authors photographs Š photographers punctum online www.punctum.asia contact info@punctum.asia

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