Right Arrow Dropdown Expand Right Arrow Left Arrow Contract Download Search user

Wednesday, 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
February 12 – February 12, 2020

The Tide Will Turn: Book Launch

Join us and RMIT University for the launch of photojournalist and political activist Shahidul Alam’s latest book The Tide Will Turn, including an in-conversation with Dr Marnie Badham. Shahidul is in Melbourne as an Adjunct Professor at RMIT and for the 2020 Activism at the Margins: Stories of Resistance, Survival and Social Change conference. He will be available to sign books, a limited number of which are for sale at the launch.

Dr Shahidul Alam is a Dhaka-based photographer and writer. He is the founder of the Drik Picture Library (1989), the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute (1998) and the Chobi Mela International Photography Festival (2000). Alam’s books include Nature’s Fury (2007), Portraits of Commitment (2009), My Journey as Witness (2011) and Best Years of My Life (2016). He has received many awards, among them the Shilpakala Padak from the President of Bangladesh (2014), the Humanitarian Award from the Lucie Awards (2018), and the ICP Infinity Award (2019). Alam is one of Time Magazine’s Persons of the Year 2018.

Dr Marnie Badham is a socially-engaged artist-researcher in Canada and Australia. Her participatory methodologies engage communities in questions of place, identity and cultural value. As Vice Chancellor’s Post Doctoral Research Fellow, School of Art, her current research The Social Life of Artist Residencies: engaging with people and places not your own examines themes of hospitality, exchange and dislocation. Marnie lectures in Art in Public Space, publishes her scholarly writing extensively, and practices through residencies, exhibition curation and community-based collaborations.


“On the night of 5 August, I did not know if I was going to live or die,” writes Shahidul Alam, one of Bangladesh’s most respected photojournalists, essayists and social activists, remembering his arrest, torture and eventual 101-day incarceration in Keraniganj Jail in 2018. Just a few hours before, he had given a television interview criticizing the government’s brutal handling of the student protests of that year which had called for improved road safety and an end to wider social injustice—in his words, “the years of misrule, the corruption, the wanton killing, the wealth amassed by the ruling coterie.” Combining Alam’s photos and texts with those of a range of collaborators, including artwork by Sofia Karim and fellow inmates, The Tide Will Turn documents his experiences, the global support for his release, and the ongoing fight for secularism and democracy in Bangladesh and beyond.

Described by its editor Vijay Prashad as about “the beauty and tragedy of our world, about how to photograph that dialectic, and about how to write about it,” the book comprises four parts: a record of Alam’s time in jail; a chapter each on art and politics, exploring their inevitable interconnectedness; and an exchange of letters between the imprisoned Alam and writer Arundhati Roy, proof of creativity’s endurance even when the state attempts to stifle it. Together, these form a layered critique of autocracy, one underpinned by Alam’s unyielding hope, his conviction that “the tide will turn, and the nameless, faceless people will rise…”

The Tide Will Turn, by Shahidul Alam, 2019
184 pages, 18.5 x 23.5 cm, softcover, published by Steidl Books.