28.11.2023  •  Art NEWS

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GoSee loves … The winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 : ‘Sea Beach (2020-2022)’ by Ismail Ferdous

The winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 is photographer Ismail Ferdous, who was born in Bangladesh and lives in the United States. For his series ‘Sea Beach’, he received an award in the main category at the 43rd edition of the LOBA.

People at the beach : couples, children, large families, shell collectors as well as merchants, fishermen and lifeguards … The photographer portrayed them all for his series. And for each, Cox’s Bazar Beach is an unparalleled place, whether for recreation, to get away from it all, or even for work. Cox’s Bazar Beach is located at the Bay of Bengal near the city of the same name. At 120 kilometers in length, it is the longest natural sea beach in the world. In bright colors, the series presents the cultural diversity of Bangladesh in all its splendor.

The beach is a place of fond memories for the photographer. After all, he visited it regularly with his family in his early childhood and then later with his friends. The etiquette and behavior of beachgoers in the US, however, is fundamentally different from traditional beach life in Bangladesh. Sunbathing at Cox’s Bazar Beach is frowned upon, and even swimming is not common. It is more about strolling along the beach and socializing with family and friends. Even companies are known to come to the beach with their employees.

Photographing during the winter months, and always at midday, Ferdous also used additional artificial light sources to create the radiant lighting he was looking for. The result is a series that depicts his place of longing while, at the same time, touching upon topical issues: consumerism and luxury add a pinch of irony alongside visible signs of climate change revealed by soil erosion.

Beaches all over the world have their own culture, a natural blend of local traditions and what tourists contribute. It’s what gives beaches their distinct personality – and Cox’s Bazar certainly has its very own. I grew up in Dhaka, a city consisting for the most part of concrete. Cox’s Bazar was and still is the most exciting vacation destination in Bangladesh. The beach is a melting pot of Bangladeshi culture. It is a place that anyone, regardless of their social class, can afford to visit for a vacation. Until my early twenties, this was the only culture I associated with the ocean and beaches.

Nestled at the southern tip of the country, along the Bay of Bengal, it is distinctly different from its regional neighbors such as Goa in India or Pattaya in Thailand. Tourists come to the beach dressed in their finest attire, delicately approaching the shore, eager to dip their feet in the brackish foam washed ashore by the tide. They stand there like pilgrims at the end of a journey, content to gaze into the horizon across the sea. Traveling merchants search for potential buyers among the masses of tourists, offering their full range of candies and goods. There is a notable lack of urgency, as if time itself had invited everyone to leave their worries behind them at the beach. Children can be heard playing loudly, but there is no scalding by parents in response. The air is filled with the scent of salt and affection.

After living in the United States for a number of years and returning to Cox’s Bazar, I am surprised by the culture. I see my own memories reflected in the beachgoers, whether they’re collecting shells, making sand sculptures or watching newlyweds take pictures on the shore. It’s still the same as it was back when I was growing up, but it’s also full of surprises. This series of photos represents both the connection and disconnection I feel with a place overflowing with memories, knowing that this is indeed genuine Bangladeshi beach culture.”

Born in 1989 and raised in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Ferdous decided to become a photographer while studying Economics at business school in Dhaka. A member of Agence VU in Paris, his photography and film projects are dedicated to social, cultural and humanitarian causes. Ferdous works for major international newspapers and magazines, and his work has received numerous awards. He’s been living in New York since 2016.

GoSee leica-oskar-barnack-award.com

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

Ismail Ferdous 'Sea Beach' / The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023 Winner

 
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