Shahria Sharmin’s work is inspired by her personal and mystical experiences. The series title Nur, meaning “light,” reflects on moments of both the past and the future that are lived between the margins of life and death. Her work re-imagines her experiences and the lives of her family encountered in an unknown landscape, evoking fragments of childhood memories and dreams as told to her by her ailing brother. In her work, all are surrounded by a beautiful light, however, even if you try your best to see this light and the more you attempt to grasp it, the vaguer it becomes and the sooner it fades away. The reason why I selected Shariah Sharmin as the second winner of the Benrido Award, is because I wanted to express the fragility of her series Nur in Collotype.
– Takumi Suzuki CEO of Benrido, Inc.
“Dig! Dig quickly, She can’t breathe. Ma! Wait for me, I’m here! I knew the only way to find her was to keep digging. She stood in what seemed to be a cave, smiling back at me. Her eyes offering warmth under a beautiful nur (light). Breathing and in peace, she was finally with me”. My brother fought for dear life for 17 painful days in a coma and would then begin the battle to recover from the life-long consequences that came from it. I faced the harsh reality of what could happen. He awoke with a compromised vision. But the most mysterious moments during those days were when he would tell me what he saw while he lay unconscious. Does Ma know? I saw her leave us, he said staring right at me one day still in his hospital bed. I stared blankly at him, offering him the comfort of my hand and said it’s only a dream. Having lost his short term memories, my brother was taken back decades, to our childhood where life, as he knew, it was limited to running as far as the eyes could see. A green pickup, never ending roads and rows of trees. Our childhood was painted with memories of my father taking us on long drives to the faithful sea and mountains. Faithful, because while life would slowly take away everything else, these would remain. In his moments battling with death, he descended into his childhood memories, experiencing once again the emotions his young and innocent mind indulged in on our many adventures. “It was an expression of healing, also of discovery. As I tried to come to terms with what we had gone through, I tried to revisit our childhood memories through his eyes. I looked for that unknown road carrying a street box camera to look for the trees we had got so used to, the shore and other bits and pieces to make my way back to what he had recalled.” His visions from past and future have truly left the family mystified. To our misfortune, the dream he had of our mother’s death while in deep coma eventually came true. Except this time, he did not find her
Shahria Sharmin is a freelance photographer based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. After doing her Masters in Public Administration from the University of Dhaka, Shahria pursued her further study at Pathshala South Asian Media Academy in Bangladesh where she became fascinated with the social history of photography and the evolution of identity, sexuality and gender in relationship to material culture. ‘Call me Heena’ Shahria’s ongoing project, takes her interest in photography’s connection with identity to explore and express the diversity of human experience. In 2014, she was named the second place winner of the Alexia Foundation student grant for her project, ‘Call me Heena’. The same work has been selected in Open Society Foundation, Moving Walls 23 group exhibition in 2015. Other awards and honours have included being recognised by International Photographer of the Year IPOTY and Magnum Photography Award 2017. ‘Call me Heena’ was Shortlisted of the first ever Women Photograph grant 2017 in conjunction with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. She is one of the participant of World Press Joop Swart Masterclass in 2019.