Naeem Mohaiemen

Otondro Prohori, Guarding Who


Photographs, slides in illuminated metal case | 2009/2014

Excerpts from the project were also printed in Sarai Reader, Delhi.

Back to elections. Back to democracy. The new normal. Mission accomplished.

But the residues are still here. A temporary camp for highway construction. Phantom investor. New chairman. List of approved guests. Shadow falls.

A theorist talks about the architecture of occupation, hollow land. But security presence in Asia is subtle. Suit tie coat bideshi degree. Think tanks, seminars, conferences, talk shows, newspapers. Everyone has an opinion on the century’s obsession. War against an invisible enemy.

They tell us, we know all the answers. How to catch them, inside and outside borders. How to keep them out. Facial hair, surname, skin hue, city of birth, passport - the full spectrum domination of motivation recognition. It’s not who you are, it’s who we say you are.

Dhaka is now inside a security zone bubble. Will democracy remove the steel wire barricades and midnight checks on Dhanmondi Bridge? On the day after the state of emergency was lifted, I saw a homeless woman drying her family clothes on that same wire barricade. A sweet, fleeting mo-ment. But a few days later, the barricades were back in action. The demand for ID, the sudden stop and search, the rummaging inside your camera bag, the interrogation. Eto raat e beriyechen keno? Janen na din-kal kharap?

I feel a searing nostalgia for open space, a time before these “temporary” structures. Temporary camps that never leave. It’s all to make you safe and secure. Safe from what?

A long pause.

Yourself, your weaker side, your politics, your affiliations, your nightmares, your ideology, your rights, your friends and neighbors.

Your dreams.