The Liberation War of Bangladesh instigated a massive uproar in the international community, especially the Bangladeshi diaspora of that time, who raised their voices in solidarity for a liberated Bangladesh. The movement in London was among the most prominent of its kind during that time. Those were the stormy days and people of all backgrounds, including British members of Parliament, journalists and students, played a significant role in gaining public support for an independent Bangladesh.
The British Council organised a month-long exhibition of photography in March and oral history at the British Council’s Dhaka University campus office. A collection of rare photographs by British photographer Roger Goyen and British-born Bangladeshi artist Yusuf Chowdhury in this exhibition showed some unseen moments of our Liberation War. Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh and Barbara Wickham, Director, British Council attended the inauguration ceremony of London 1971 which was held on 3 March 2017.
The work tells a fascinating story of the importance of Arts during a turbulent crisis – how photography, graphic design, film, music and performance were used as a means to protest and to tell a difficult and complex story while helping a wider audience understand these narratives and promoting freedom of speech, critical thinking and mutuality.
This exhibition was organised in partnership with project London 1971 led by Ujjal Das, who collected and built this archive of rare photographs. Artist Shehzad Chowdhury has curated the exhibition with the aim of exploring how the conflict was represented in London as well as the role of the British Council’s own offices in Dhaka during the Liberation War. There were a series of events on every Friday in March to explore the representation of the conflict in London, the role of the physical British Council space in the Liberation War and responses from Bangladeshi artists today.