Chobi Mela International Photography Festival

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Chobi Mela is a biennial international festival of photography held in Dhaka, Bangladesh.[1][2] It is the largest festival of photography held in Asia.[3][4][5] Chobi Mela X will take place in February 2019.[6] The key organisers are Drik Picture Library and Pathshala (The South Asian Institute of Photography).[7]


The outreach programme consisted of mobile exhibitions which went to schools, playgrounds, market places. The exhibitions were accompanied by community liaison staff who explained the context of the show to viewers. Visits to the exhibition by school children and guided tours by curators were also arranged. An exhibition on the plight of Bangladeshi Jute workers was shown on the walls of the courtyard of "Kalpana Boarding" a low cost motel in Old Dhaka. These programmes have been extremely successful and the model has been replicated in far flung countries, such as Bolivia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.

The opening of Chobi Mela V was on 30 January 2009 at the Bangladesh National Museum where the opening was through a show on Nelson Mandela and a remarkable video conference between Mahasweta Devi and Noam Chomsky talking about the festival theme "Freedom".

Chobi Mela IV International festival of photography [8][9] was held in Bangladesh from 9 November to 30 November 2006. The theme was "Boundaries". There were 49 exhibitions containing works by photographers from 23 countries. The show opened with a spectacular exhibition by Contact Press Images showing iconic images taken over the last thirty years.[10] Held at a time when the country was at the brink of a civil war, this remarkable festival took place when most events in Bangladesh were being called off.[11] Two major photographers Rashid Talukder of Bangladesh and Peter Magubane of South Africa were recognised with lifetime achievement awards. The awards are given as recognition to photographers who have made outstanding contribution to the field of photography.]

Chobi Mela III was held in Dhaka in 2004.[12] A selection of twelve exhibitions from Chobi Mela V was shown in Kathmandu as a 'mini Chobi Mela V' from 22 May 2009. 'Mini Chobi Mela V' is being organised by 'Photo Circle' in Kathmandu.[13]


  1. ^ "All Eyes On Dhaka". The Daily Star. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  2. ^ "A rendezvous of photographers in city". Archived from the original on 24 May 2014. Retrieved 13 May 2013.
  3. ^ Yee, Amy (13 March 2014). "In Bangladesh, a Vibrant Contemporary Scene". The New York Times.
  4. ^ "Chobi Mela kicks off next month". The Daily Observer. Dhaka. 19 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Chobi Mela VIII to begin on January 23, 2015". Dhaka Tribune. 19 December 2014.
  6. ^ "Chobi Mela International Festival of Photography - CALL FOR ENTRY". Chobi Mela facebook page. Dhaka. 6 February 2018.
  7. ^ Estrin, James (4 January 2013). "From Bangladesh, a Photo Festival Builds Bridges". Lens. The New York Times.
  8. ^ "Chobi Mela IV. Nafas Art Magazine". Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  9. ^ "Exposing Perimeters". Star Weekend Magazine. The Daily Star. 10 November 2006.
  10. ^ "Contact - Chobi Mela". 9 November 2006. Archived from the original on 5 July 2013. Retrieved 12 May 2013.
  11. ^ "Pushing the Boundaries". Slate. New Age. December 2006. Archived from the original on 9 January 2009.
  12. ^ "3rd Int'l Festival of Photography begins tomorrow". The Daily Star. 5 December 2004.
  13. ^ "Photo, Workshop, Exhibition, Publication, Archive, Gallery, Shop, Kathmandu, Nepal –". Retrieved 12 May 2013.

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