Public art installation at the Korail slum waterfront in Gulshan
Since early 2013, artist and photojournalist Susie Taylor has been reporting on the Bangladeshi garment industry with her partner, Jason Motlagh. The two have teamed up with the Photography Department of Counter Foto, an international platform of photographers and activists, to install a public art installation with world-renowned artist JR and the Inside Out project, at the Korail slum waterfront in Gulshan, Dhaka. The exhibition opened on September 13, 2013.
Taylor brought the Inside Out project to Bangladesh because of the tension of a political nature inherent in the Bangladeshi garment industry. While the industry has brought strength and mobility to women, it has also cost them dearly – both in the loss of traditional craftsmanship and the adoption of gruelling labour demands. The art installation at Korail is a celebration of the hard working Bengali woman and in support of her struggle for socio-economic justice.
The message is Dignity in Industry. Bangladeshi photographers from Counter Foto, in collaboration with Susie Taylor and Jason Motlagh, produced the artwork. The interactive public exhibition was installed in collaboration with JAAGO Foundation, a youth organization that focuses on eradicating poverty in Bangladesh. JAAGO has built and operated schools in Korail over the years.
The prints are done on PVC instead of traditional paper and wheat-paste to add utility and friendliness to the environment, and to avoid adding to the non-biodegradable solid waste that is already a menacing burden for those living in Korail. The Korail community owns the completed exhibit; and at any point can use the work for insulation, waterproofing, etc.
JAAGO Foundation collected garbage from the waterfront during installation of the piece.
The exhibit titled Akhter Begum – the two most common last names for garment workers in the country's EPZs – adopted by most who have only first names and sometimes no government records of identity. The broader public is invited to take boat rides to Korail, interact with the community, boost the local economy, learn their stories, take part in the cleanup effort and soften the overt division between the rich and the poor.