Fri 5 July 2024 – Sat 3 August 2024

I Am Who I Am Now: Selections from the Bengali Photo Archive

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Press release

Opening at Four Corners Gallery this July, I Am Who I Am Now: Selections from the Bengali Photo Archive offers a unique insight into the everyday life of the Bengali East End of London. 


This exhibition focuses on everyday photographs taken of and by Bengali people over the past 50 years. From snapshots of family life to images documenting the transformative power of community spaces, I Am Who I Am Now illuminates the intricate interplay between individual experiences and the broader socio-political landscape in the East End.

The images are drawn from the Bengali Photo Archive, a new collection of personal and family photographs donated by local people. They are shown alongside work by photographers who have documented the working lives, activism and anti-racist struggles of the Bengali community, including Raju Vaidyanathan, Mayar Akash, Anthony Lam, Paul Halliday, Sarah Ainslie, David Hoffman and Paul Trevor.

The title of the show is inspired by photographer Mayar Akash, who reflected, “I am who I am now” because of his transformative experiences in East End youth work settings. The central importance of such community spaces is shown in images of the Federation of Bangladeshi Youth Organisations, and musicians such as Joi Bangla, State of Bangal and Osmani Knights. These groups brought together politics, activism, arts and music to create a new Bengali youth culture in the 1980s.

The stories behind these photographs are brought to life though recently collected oral history recordings. The archive has also inspired new, collaboratively-created works, such as photographs embroidered by mothers and daughters, that share powerful and intimate perspectives on the community's histories. 


I Am Who I Am Now: Selections from the Bengali Photo Archive is co-curated by Julian Ehsan, Four Corners and the Bengali Photo Archive volunteers with the generous support of Swadhinata Trust. The exhibition and archive project were supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and National Lottery Community Fund, Historic England, Art Fund, Robert Gavron Charitable Trust, The John S Cohen Foundation, Old Possum's Practical Trust and The Austin & Hope Pilkington Trust.


This exhibition is accompanied by a series of talks and film screenings.
Further details coming soon. 


Image: Two boys dancing at Spitalfields City Farm, 1990s. © Julie Begum. Courtesy of Bengali Photo Archive.