[-empyre-] Pharmakon Library: Naeem Mohaiemen, My Mobile Weighs a Ton

Christina McPhee christina at christinamcphee.net
Mon Dec 29 12:09:14 EST 2008

dear -empyreans-,

As the Bangladesh elections are beginning right now, I want to invite  
your attention to some Pharmakon Library Images contributed by Naeem  
Mohaiemen (http://shobak.org).   on the elections:  http://globalvoicesonline.org/2008/12/23/bangladesh-election-2008-and-cyber-activism/

I invited Naeem to contribute whatever he liked to the Pharmakon  
Library. His choice was to publish a suite of four mobile phone images  
he took during anti-army riots in August 2007 in Dhaka.   And showed a  
year later, then archived to the Pharmakon Library.

As he writes,  " August 2008 was the first anniversary of the anti- 
army riots that exploded on university campuses– a tectonic  
disturbance that was the first challenge to this neat security  
blueprint. Invited to show at Gallery Chitrak around this time, I  
finally thought I could dare a shadow commemoration of that August.  
The first priority was making sure the gallery stayed open for the  
full ten days. They wanted no fuss, no bother with the government.

"It was true, I did have a set of mobile phone photos. Accidental  
ephemera from the moment. On day 3 of the riots, when the army lifted  
curfew for two hours, I went on a motorcycle ride with my friend,  
snapping shots of the wreckage from my mobile. “Don’t bring out your  
camera,” my nervous friend warned, so I didn’t. The mobile shots,  
disposable and forgotten (I had almost erased without downloading),  
now became the tentpole for this project. Blown up to wall size, dyed  
in RGB palettes, they took on the timeline for the unravelling."

For myself, I felt that the RGB 'prettification' of these casual shots  
intensifies the sense of pharmakon as 'paint'.


Painting over to make it more 'arty' , for Naeem, a self-ironic act,  
and at the same time, to paint them was to bring them back from near- 

The anxiety of a period now when who knows if cyberculture can make  
any kind of difference, or is it all just another layer of wall  
decoration.   As pharmakon, both no doubt.  As Naeem noted at the  
time, the gallery only had a space open because of Ramadan.



Christina McPhee

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