Photographer and Activist Taslima Akhter at Photoville
We are pleased to be presenting the work of Bangladeshi photographer and garment worker activist Taslima Akhter at this year’s Photoville in an exhibition titled Stitching Together: Garment Workers in Solidarity. Taslima has been a witness to workers’ struggles for the last 11 years and has contributed to multiple books and projects as the Chair of Garment Sromik Samhoti (Bangladesh Garment Workers Solidarity). Taslima was a Magnum Foundation Photography and Social Justice fellow in 2011, the program’s second year, where she received intensive training on the use of photography to serve critical social justice issues. Taslima will be present in New York for the duration of the festival, and we are excited to have her participate in related events both at Photoville and at the Magnum Foundation.
Stitching Together: Garment Workers in Solidarity is on view at Photoville from September 13–23. The exhibition showcases Taslima’s intimate collaboration with a community of quiltmakers mourning the loss of loved ones in factory disasters.
On April 24, 2013, more than 1,000 lives were taken in the Rana Plaza Collapse. While history remembers this tragic event as the deadliest garment factory accident, Taslima reveals a story of dreams crushed by structural murder. Dedicating her career to the lives and struggles of garment workers in Bangladesh, she has continued to foster a community rallying together for safer working conditions.
In an act of remembrance, healing, and solidarity, volunteer quilters have produced commemorations for their friends and loved ones lost to the Rana Plaza Collapse. The quilts are made up of embroidered messages and photographs, and incorporate belongings donated by surviving relatives. The artists hope to develop awareness of the injustices that garment workers experience and are at risk of every day. Telling a counter-narrative of the disaster, these quilts provide families with the ability to memorialize their loved ones while also activating a conversation with the public.
Contributing to the history of the labor movement, this project takes inspiration from Robin Berson’s memorial quilt for the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911 here in New York City, where 145 laborers—primarily women immigrants—perished in the deadliest industrial disaster in the city’s history. See details below on a public conversation between Robin and Taslima.
Special thanks to Public Works Collaborative Design Strategists, Amelia Blackwell & Mary Warren, for their contribution to the exhibition design.
In Conversation: Taslima Akhter and Robin Berson
Sunday, September 16 | 4:30–5:30 PM
60 Water Street, DUMBO (across from Photoville)
Taslima Akhter and Robin Berson will be speaking in conversation about their processes as artists and activists working in the labor movement, advocating for the rights of garment workers. The two have collaborated and communicated from across the world: Akhter in Bangladesh, and Benson in New York, on projects memorializing the lives of mostly female garment workers that have been lost in preventable factory tragedies.
Brown Bag Lunch with Taslima Akhter and Betty Yu
Tuesday, September 18 | 1–2:30 PM
59 East 4th Street, 7th Floor
Taslima Akhter and Betty Yu will present their work, each rooted in the garment industry and labor rights from two distinct visual approaches. They’ll be in dialogue together about collaborating with garment workers, personal ties to the issues they represent, and how their activism has been augmented by their artistic processes.