Mohammad Shahnewaz Khan /Bangladesh

Life In The Cage - Artist Statement

"Life in the Cage" is a visual personal project, self-observation, about my family and me. I've documented this project in the year 2020 and 2021, during the lockdown in the COVID-19 pandemic days. It documents the interactions of various aspects of our daily lives during these ongoing pandemic days in our home in the coastal city of Chittagong, Bangladesh. I have spent my entire career as a photojournalist documenting the struggles of others, now, for the first time; I stood in front of my family and me. I struggled to focus my lens on my own story, embracing the power of photography as a motivation to survive. This new experience felt awkward and at times uncomfortable. My photographs show slivers of our daily life, hope, disappointments, expectations, loneliness, frustration and fears. Our joys overshadow the uncertainties we face. I was able to observe my family closely, and I've discovered my weaknesses deeply. While struggling to capture this moment in history, I dreamed of a downpour in the desert. I felt as though I was drowning and tried to stay alive through our story.

During the lockdown (2020), our children became ill with fever, coughing, shortness of breath linked to allergies. We tried home remedies. In fact; my wife and I really had no choice. Our regular familiar family doctor has been absent from his clinic for over two months. It was terrible, because of unavailable health treatment in Bangladesh. Patients aren't getting treatment, even those who aren't corona patients are dying without treatment because of panic in hospitals and doctors and lack of empty seats. On the other hand; my two younger brothers and I lived together as a joint family, but during the Corona pandemic, for the first time; we became separated (2020). In 2021; during the shutdown (hard-lockdown), the bone in my right leg was broken. In the meantime; I was infected with coronavirus. At the same time; another member of my family (my wife's aunt, who is with us as a guardian in the absence of my late parents) was Infected by me. We can only guess what is happening inside the families of the people around us, visual observation is not possible. So I picked up my camera, where I tried to understand and disclose the reality.

Curator's Statement:

"Life in a Cage" by Mohammad Shahnewaz Khan is though poignant, yet a poetic portraiture of himself and his family at their home during the COVID19 lockdown in Chittagong, Bangladesh.

The series of stark and visually emotive black and white images, candid and sometimes controlled, gives the viewer an insight into their personal struggle to triumph over the uncertainties as the pandemic creates havoc and an imbalance to all normal lives around the planet. 

Mohammad Shahnewaz Khan

Son of a freedom fighter; born in 1984, lives in Chittagong. Mohammad Shahnewaz Khan" is a Humanist Documentary Photographer, Curator, Educator, social activist, works as a freelance photojournalist. He is the Founder Director of the VOHH Photography Institute, VOHH Foundation and the VOHH FOTO FEST. Khan has won more than 200 international awards in the field of photojournalism and Documentary photography; his photo series have been featured over 300 International journals, in print media and TV shows worldwide and has been exhibited around 80 countries; his long term projects have also been the subject of teaching, lectures and research in many Universities and Organizations in the US and Europe. After passed 'Higher Secondary School Certificate' in Science, he successfully Completed "Diploma In Photography", "Professional degree course" and also completed dozen of International Mentorship and Masterclass in the field of photojournalism and documentary photography, including; more than 200 workshops. He has been working as a freelance photojournalist since 2004 and freelancer for the "Washington Post" since 2018 and his name included in the talent network of 'Washington Post'. His International assignments experiences with the leading international editors, curators, news agencies and organizations in the world. like; 'Washington Post', 'CNN', 'Al Jazeera', 'Sputnik News', 'Alexia Foundation', 'Sunday Times', 'Publico', 'FotoEvidence Press', 'Eyes Open Magazine', 'Al Mayadeen TV', 'World Bank-IFC' and many National-International NGOs and Magazines. He is currently a professional Teacher at VOHH Photography Institute. He regularly teaches photography in Bangladesh and abroad. Having dreamed in his youth of becoming a writer, photography instead managed to became his muse and mode of expression.