Munem
Wasif

Munem Wasif

biography


Munem Wasif was born in Bangladesh in 1983 and graduated from Pathshala in photography.

Munem Wasif’s photography and film investigates complex social and political issues with a humanistic language, by getting close to the people, physically and psychologically, dealing with multiple questions and contradictions. Expressionistic in style and long-term in method, Wasif often experiments beyond the tradition, tests the possibilities of fiction, by borrowing a familiar documentary language. His interest is often on the concept of ‘documents’ and ‘archives’ and its influence on addressing politically and geographically complex issues.

He had exhibitions worldwide including, Center Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo & Visa pour l’image in France, Whitechapel Gallery, Kettle’s Yard & Victoria & Albert museum in England, Museu d’Art Contemporani of Barcelona in Spain, Musée de l’Élysee,  Musée d’Art et d’Histoire & Fotomuseam Winterthur in Switzerland, Kunsthal museum & Noordelicht festival in Netherlands, Museum of Modern Art in Poland, Parasite in Hong Kong, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Vietnam, Gwangju biennale in Korea, Singapore biennale, Sharjah Bienalle in UAE, Asia Pacific Triennial of contemporary art in Australia, and Dhaka Art summit & Chobi Mela in Bangladesh.

His photographs have been published in Le Monde, Sunday Times Magazine, Geo, Guardian, Politiken, Mare, Du, Days Japan, L’espresso, Libération, Wall Street Journal and many others.

Munem Wasif is also a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany from 2020-2021. His last book on Old Dhaka was published by Clémentine de la Féronnière in France.

He is represented by Agence Vu in Paris and Project 88 in Mumbai.

Series


Spring Song, 2019

Munem Wasif constantly explores the idea of border and re-examines the questions around its formation. How these borders constructed? Who constructs them? How are they broken and re-formed?

Seeds Shall set us Free, 2017

Munem Wasif seeks to reimagine an indigenous “ecosophical” mode of agriculture, where grain is a companion species to humanity, having names, deities and spirits, around which the village organizes itself.

Machine Matter, 2017

In Machine Matter, Wasif examines the death of the jute industry in Bangladesh and the destruction of the livelihoods the ‘golden fibre’ once supported.

Land of the undefined territory, 2012

Munem Wasif has photographed a blurred boundary between Bangladesh and India with a dispassionate and systematic approach that mimics investigation, topographic study, geological survey or a simple aesthetic search.

Salt Water Tears, 2008

Rippling sea waves, dried river beds and endless fields. Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. A family needs about six pitchers of water a day, and they have to walk seven miles to get it.

Climate refugees, 2007

In the past ten years, farmers like Hatem Ali have had to dismantle and relocate their tin and bamboo houses at least five times to escape the invasive waters of the huge Brahmaputra River in Kurigram.

Belonging, 2006

"Puran Dhaka, or "Old Dhaka", was a rather unlikely subject for me because I’ve been living there for many years. It was about trying to find a feeling of something new in the routine of my daily life.

Spring Song, 2019

Munem Wasif constantly explores the idea of border and re-examines the questions around its formation. How these borders constructed? Who constructs them? How are they broken and re-formed?

Seeds Shall set us Free, 2017

Munem Wasif seeks to reimagine an indigenous “ecosophical” mode of agriculture, where grain is a companion species to humanity, having names, deities and spirits, around which the village organizes itself.

Machine Matter, 2017

In Machine Matter, Wasif examines the death of the jute industry in Bangladesh and the destruction of the livelihoods the ‘golden fibre’ once supported.

Land of the undefined territory, 2012

Munem Wasif has photographed a blurred boundary between Bangladesh and India with a dispassionate and systematic approach that mimics investigation, topographic study, geological survey or a simple aesthetic search.

Salt Water Tears, 2008

Rippling sea waves, dried river beds and endless fields. Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. A family needs about six pitchers of water a day, and they have to walk seven miles to get it.

Climate refugees, 2007

In the past ten years, farmers like Hatem Ali have had to dismantle and relocate their tin and bamboo houses at least five times to escape the invasive waters of the huge Brahmaputra River in Kurigram.

Belonging, 2006

"Puran Dhaka, or "Old Dhaka", was a rather unlikely subject for me because I’ve been living there for many years. It was about trying to find a feeling of something new in the routine of my daily life.

Spring Song, 2019

Munem Wasif constantly explores the idea of border and re-examines the questions around its formation. How these borders constructed? Who constructs them? How are they broken and re-formed?

Seeds Shall set us Free, 2017

Munem Wasif seeks to reimagine an indigenous “ecosophical” mode of agriculture, where grain is a companion species to humanity, having names, deities and spirits, around which the village organizes itself.

Machine Matter, 2017

In Machine Matter, Wasif examines the death of the jute industry in Bangladesh and the destruction of the livelihoods the ‘golden fibre’ once supported.

Land of the undefined territory, 2012

Munem Wasif has photographed a blurred boundary between Bangladesh and India with a dispassionate and systematic approach that mimics investigation, topographic study, geological survey or a simple aesthetic search.

Salt Water Tears, 2008

Rippling sea waves, dried river beds and endless fields. Water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. A family needs about six pitchers of water a day, and they have to walk seven miles to get it.

Climate refugees, 2007

In the past ten years, farmers like Hatem Ali have had to dismantle and relocate their tin and bamboo houses at least five times to escape the invasive waters of the huge Brahmaputra River in Kurigram.

Belonging, 2006

"Puran Dhaka, or "Old Dhaka", was a rather unlikely subject for me because I’ve been living there for many years. It was about trying to find a feeling of something new in the routine of my daily life.

Multimedia


Machine Matter, 2017

In Machine Matter, Wasif examines the death of the jute industry in Bangladesh and the destruction of the livelihoods the ‘golden fibre’ once supported.

Kheyal, 2015

Munem Wasif’s Kheyal follows four characters through the streets of Old Dhaka in Bangladesh. The title is derived from the Arabic word ‘Khyal’ or ‘Khayal’, meaning fiction or imagination, and the film captures the enigmatic environments and unique identities inhabiting the historic city.

Machine Matter, 2017

In Machine Matter, Wasif examines the death of the jute industry in Bangladesh and the destruction of the livelihoods the ‘golden fibre’ once supported.

Kheyal, 2015

Munem Wasif’s Kheyal follows four characters through the streets of Old Dhaka in Bangladesh. The title is derived from the Arabic word ‘Khyal’ or ‘Khayal’, meaning fiction or imagination, and the film captures the enigmatic environments and unique identities inhabiting the historic city.

Machine Matter, 2017

In Machine Matter, Wasif examines the death of the jute industry in Bangladesh and the destruction of the livelihoods the ‘golden fibre’ once supported.

Kheyal, 2015

Munem Wasif’s Kheyal follows four characters through the streets of Old Dhaka in Bangladesh. The title is derived from the Arabic word ‘Khyal’ or ‘Khayal’, meaning fiction or imagination, and the film captures the enigmatic environments and unique identities inhabiting the historic city.

Interviews


Artist Stories: Munem Wasif
APT 9

2019

Munem Wasif talks about his film Kheyal (2015-18) where he follows four characters through the streets of old Dhaka in Bangladesh. The title is derived from the Arabic word “Khyal” or “Khayal”, which means fiction or imagination. The film shows the enigmatic environments and unique identities that inhabit the historic city.

Wasif describes his film as a work of “magical realism” because it oscillates between real and imaginary narratives, navigating between the conscious and subconscious, and reveals the very different pace of life that inhabits the old city.

 

Pictet Award, Space: Munem Wasif
Prix Pictet

2017

Prix Pictet ‘Space’ shortlisted artist Munem Wasif was interviewed at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London during the Finalists’ Exhibition on May 4th 2017.

The Land of the Undefined Territory
CoBo Dhaka Art Summit

2016

Munem Wasif talks about his exhibition “Land of the undefined territory” at the Dhaka Art Summit and Samdani Art Foundation in 2016. This work questions the identity of a land that is linked to a specific political and geographical context, but could also be anywhere. Wasif’s serene and systematic approach in this series imitates that of a survey, a topographical study, a geological survey or a simple aesthetic question.

Encore !
France 24

2015

Photographer Munem Wasif was invited in the Encore! studio to talk about a new exhibition which aims to show the complexity of faith in his native Bangladesh. From his sister’s hijab to the country’s diverse history, Wasif tries to bring nuance to an issue that – unlike his photos – is not just black and white.

Nuit noire, empreinte climatique
Action contre la faim et l’Agence VU’

2015

On the occasion of the Nuit Blanche 2015 in Paris, the French association Action Against Hunger and the Agence VU create the itinerary Nuit Noire – Empreinte Climatique (Black Night – Climate Footprint). Based on the work of photographer Wasif Munem, the exhibition sheds light on the climate threat in Bangladesh, where the association is active. In this interview, Wasif Munem explains the impact of climate change on the populations he photograph using his series “A Tale of Paradise Lost” : “Every monsoon, there is a fear that a tornado or cyclone will destroy the dikes (…) some have lost their homes a dozen times. »

L’histoire de la vieille ville
TEDx Talks

2015

Munem Wasif has been taking photos of the old part of Dhaka city for more than a decade. From his deep love for the place, a sense of belonging, Wasif comes with breathtaking photos and several intimate insider stories from the community.

Munem Wasif, Pictet Award
Prix Pictet

2010

Interview conducted on the occasion of the Prix Pictet 2008 at the Musée de l’Élysée de Lausanne, to document the struggles of the people of Bangladesh who have lost virtually all their natural resources and way of life due to shrimp farming along the coast.

Standin on the Edge
Canon CPN

2009

Agency VU’ photographer Munem Wasif tells the story behind his unforgettable black and white images of refugees in his homeland of Bangladesh. Here he talks about his career and reveals how issues close to his heart helped him to document the major refugee problems.

Exhibitions


Seeds Shall Set Us Free II

Centre Pompidou, Paris (FRANCE)

From October 23 to December 23, 2019

Salt Water Tears

Festival de Chobi Mela VI, 2011, (BANGLADESH)

From January 21 to March 2, 2011

En Dieu Nous Croyons

Visa pour l’Image, Perpignan (FRANCE)

From August 28 to September 12, 2010

books


Belonging

Éditions Clémentine de la Feronnière - 2013

Larmes salées

Images plurielles - 2011

Bangladesh, Standing on the edge

Éditions C.D.P – Collection Visa pour l’Image - 2008

Belonging

Éditions Clémentine de la Feronnière - 2013

Larmes salées

Images plurielles - 2011

Bangladesh, Standing on the edge

Éditions C.D.P – Collection Visa pour l’Image - 2008

Belonging

Éditions Clémentine de la Feronnière - 2013

Larmes salées

Images plurielles - 2011

Bangladesh, Standing on the edge

Éditions C.D.P – Collection Visa pour l’Image - 2008

awards


The F25 International Award For Concerned Photography of the Fabrica

For his Series « Belonging – Old Dhaka »

2010

Commision for the Prize Pictet

Series “Salt Water Tears”

2009

City of Perpignan Award Rémi Ochlik

For its series “Bangladesh, on the wire”

2008

The F25 International Award For Concerned Photography of the Fabrica

For his Series « Belonging – Old Dhaka »

2008

Joop Swart Masterclass

2007