Interview with photographer Homayra Adiba

Cary Benbow (CB): Lets talk about your ‘Where Blue Birds Fly’ portfolio images submitted to this month’s issue about ‘Home’ – What is the background to this project, and how does the work relate to your other projects?

Homayra Adiba (HA): ‘Where Blue Birds Fly’ is a story of rooftops in Dhaka City. It’s deeply related to my childhood. The rooftop wasn’t just a place when I was a kid, it was almost a part of our home. Back in the 1990’s, every evening most of the people living in a building would go there. I hardly see that anymore. In the old part of Dhaka there are still people coming on the rooftops. Compared to the new part of the city with its growing apartment buildings and modern technology, we hardly have anytime to spare. We don’t visit the rooftops anymore. It’s striking to me that we don’t have any time to sit anymore, to look at the sky or the city! But then again, there was no Internet back then when I was little.

I wanted to capture those bits that are still there to relive the reminiscence of my childhood. I could sense that soon it’s going to fade away. I wanted to capture it before it’s gone. Especially in this way, this project is similar to my other work. I take a trip to my childhood, or I find where I really belong.

CB: How did you talk with the people in this project about photographing them? What aspect do they play in the images?

HA: As I said, it’s mostly about the place. Even without people, the work always talks about the people living in that space. You can make little stories in your mind – from broken Lego pieces, you could say there are kids who come here, or a pack of cigarettes would tell you someone comes here to have their moments to smoke. A garden could say somebody takes their time and has this hobby to grow plants… It could be a mother of two who takes time from her households.

In my two and a half years journey of capturing rooftops in the city, I found people are never comfortable with you if you ask for access to the building. They somehow think maybe you are from the media and unsafe to them. What I did is very rebellious (somewhat dangerous) – I went straight to the top of the buildings, if there’s no one I would take my time and have my moment. However, if there are people, I would be accepted – I look like them, I talk like them, and I am one of them. If I had to take pictures of them, I would always tell them why, and what I was doing, and they are mostly welcoming. But I would never jump into my photography right away – rooftops are the place that makes you slow down, you spend some time there, take a little moment from your busy miserable life. There is no rush. I would go and connect myself with the mood, slow down, untie my hair sometimes. Sometimes it took me several trips to go to a same rooftop to find the image I wanted.

But in this project, the edit you see contains the people I know, I am familiar with. Even though I went to hundreds of rooftops, I still find those pictures intimate because we know each other.

CB: This work is very personal in nature – how does your work make a comment on a universal level as well?

HA: Even though my work speaks of small places in Dhaka city, it also speaks to universal human emotions, and about time being grabbed by the moving responsibilities, technologies, belongings and changing nature of life.

CB: Is it relatively easy, or is it a struggle to be an artist where you live? Do you feel isolated in the larger photographic community?

HA: Human life is a continuous struggle. It doesn’t matter whether you are an artist or a plumber. It definitely has it’s cons, but there are little perks of living this life too. I think I like to be a little isolated but I definitely haven’t found a good fit where I am now. I have a long way to go before I get satisfied with what I am doing. There are still more stories I would like to tell, more mediums I would like to try.

Homayra Adiba is a photographer from Bangladesh. On her website she says: I am Homayra, born at dawn, somewhere in Dhaka city. I grew up there and see myself as a growing documentary photographer. My school, Pathshala South Asian Media Institute was one of the good decisions of my life.

You can see more work by Homayra Adiba at her website.

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The Immigrants @ Howard Greenberg Gallery

Bob Gruen, John Lennon, New York, 1974

The Immigrants: A Group Exhibition of Works by Select Photographers
December 14, 2017 – January 27, 2018

“More than 70 images exploring these important topics will be on view by Ansel Adams, Boushra Almutawakel, Margaret Bourke-White, Manuel Alvarez Bravo, Edward Burtynsky, Robert Capa, Imogen Cunningham, Bruce Davidson, Robert Frank, Ernst Haas, Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Alex Majoli, Ruth Orkin, Bill Owens, Dulce Pinzón, Augustus Frederick Sherman, W. Eugene Smith, Alfred Stieglitz, Tseng Kwong Chi, and Alex Webb, among others.”

Howard Greenberg Gallery
41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406, New York.

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Adam Golfer, Diana Matar, Hrvoje Slovenc @ Museum of Contemporary Photography

Adam Golfer, Diana Matar, Hrvoje Slovenc: Traversing the Past
January 18—April 1, 2018

OPENING RECEPTION: January 18, 2018, 5:00 p.m.

“Traversing the Past: Adam Golfer, Diana Matar, Hrvoje Slovenc at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago presents the work of three artists, all of whom trace their family stories to histories of political turmoil, violence, and displacement. In using personal experiences as starting points, the artists transform the autobiographical into a multivalent lens through which to view complex political narratives. Adam Golfer, Diana Matar, and Hrvoje Slovenc use family stories originating during World War II, the Qaddafi regime in Libya, and the Croatian War of Independence, respectively, as a starting point for examining how traces of the past confound and obscure the present.”

Museum of Contemporary Photography
at Columbia College Chicago
600 South Michigan Avenue
Chicago, IL 60605

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Samantha Geballe @ New Orleans Photo Alliance

Samantha Geballe: SELF-UNTITLED
through February 25, 2018

Opening Saturday, November 18 6-9 PM | Artist Talk at 7 PM

“Samantha Geballe makes self-portraits in order to reverse the perspective of how she sees herself with that of the viewer. SELF-UNTITLED envisions the feeling that false interpretation provokes, and speaks more broadly to the mistreatment of a person through a solo show featuring beautiful, intimate images, video, and interactive activity. ”

New Orleans Photo Alliance
1111 St. Mary Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70130

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© Alberte A Pereira

November 11 – 18, 2017

Opening Reception: Wednesday, November 15th, 6 – 8 PM

SF Camerawork
1011 Market St., 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

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JEAN-PIERRE LAFFONT @ Sous Les Etoiles Gallery

Powder Ridge Rock Festival, 1970 © Jean-Pierre Laffont

NOVEMBER 16, 2017 -JANUARY 6, 2018


“This is the first US exhibition of “Turbulent America,” which represents a selection of Jean-Pierre Laffont’s work from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s that captures the genuine sense of what it was like to live in America during these decades. Speaking about these images Laffont comments, “They do what photographs do best: freeze decisive moments in time for future examination. These photographs form a personal and historical portrait of a country I have always viewed critically but affectionately, and to which I bear immense gratitude.””

Sous Les Etoiles Gallery
100 Crosby Street #603
New York City, NY 10012
T: 212 966 0796

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Brett Leigh Dicks @ Maitland Gaol’s historic B Wing Cell Block

Brett Leigh Dicks – Behind These Walls: Photographs of Decommissioned Australian Gaols
16 December 2017 – 23 February 2018

“Empty prisons are eerie places. Each prison has its own history, character, and stories to tell, but so too does every cell. Etched into their walls is the passing of successive generations of inmates each of who has carved their passing. For the past decade Australian photographer, Brett Leigh Dicks, has been photographing abandoned prisons the world over. His latest project has seen the US-based photographer exploring decommissioned prisons and gaols in his homeland of Australia. ”

Maitland Gaol, 2-18 Johns Street, East Maitland, NSW 2323, Australia

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Hygiene – A Circle of Life @ Fotografiska

Millie, 5 år, Stockholm. Photo: Ida Borg

Hygiene – A Circle of Life
8 November 2017 – 21 January 2018

“Ever since Fotografiska initiated the series seven years ago, the Fotografiska For Life exhibitions have contributed to putting the spotlight on important issues that need to be addressed. In Sweden and internationally. Photography is an inclusive art form that elicits involvement, which is why it is so effective in reaching both mind and soul and provoking new thinking. This, in turn, leads to commitment and a desire to change things. Something happens when you encounter art – you encounter your fellow beings and you encounter yourself. Fotografiska’s vision is always to inspire a more conscious world.”


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VALDIR CRUZ @ Throckmorton Fine Art

VALDIR CRUZ: P r e s e n c e s
December 7, 2017 – February 24, 2018

“Over the past three decades, Cruz has chronicled unique and ephemeral places in Brazil where the people and the landscapes create an indelible impression on the viewer. In the words of Spencer Throckmorton, “Valdir Cruz’s exquisite photography bears out Tolstoy’s observation that to be universal one only needs to talk about his own village.” Kraige Block, Executive Director of Throckmorton Fine Art says, “Valdir Cruz is as much an anthropologist as a photographer. The power of these images of Brazilian people, distinctive landscapes, and magnificent waterfalls opens a discussion about human societies and the environment.””

Throckmorton Fine Art
145 E. 57th Street, 3rd Fl. New York, NY 10022

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Stacy Kranitz @ Tracey Morgan Gallery

Stacy Kranitz: Fulcrum of Malice
December 1st –

Opening Friday, December 1st, 6-8 PM

“Stacy Kranitz’s work explores history, representation and otherness within the documentary tradition. She uses photography to open up a narrative that confronts our understanding of culture; one poised between notions of what is right and what is wrong. Kranitz is interested in carving out a path that explores the subjective relationship to the people she photographs resulting in images that are meant to implicate the photographer as well as the viewer.”

Tracey Morgan Gallery
188 Coxe Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina, 28801

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