Salt water tears
Munem Wasif

Sept. 3, 2010 – Dec. 5, 2010 Deze tentoonstelling is afgelopen
Shajhan Siraj and his brothers are pushing boats through low tide
Kunsthal Rotterdam introduces Munem Wasif - a talented, young photographer from Bangladesh. With a keen eye for aesthetics he documents the ecological changes in the Bay of Bengal. In his native country tidal waves occur and coastal erosion is accelerating. Moreover, salty seawater invades the land causing it to become brackish, and hence barren. In the most densely populated land in the world, where every inch of usable land is at a premium, this is a source of great concern. Wasif's impressive photographs in black and white portray the consequences this has for the inhabitants.

Personal Stories

Through personal stories Wasif illustrates the changes occurring in the far south-west of Bangladesh. He traversed the area on a motorcycle and took photographs of the inhabitants whom he encountered. From a distance, he portrayed two women waiting for their pitchers to be filled with fresh water from the only filters in the area. Another photograph shows a young woman covered with a blanket who sits in front of a loam hut, clearly feeling unwell. Elsewhere he portrayed three brothers pushing their boats,  with only the jerrycans filled with fresh water they had collected inland as cargo, through low tide into the sea. The three boats etch a keel-trail in the squelchy, sterile mud.  At the horizon, away from these three plodding men, the sun reflects in the only water present. Not explicitly but subtly instead, this photo series makes visible just how catastrophic flooding and the shortage of fresh drinking water influence daily life in this corner of Bangladesh.


De onbalans van het ecosysteem heeft zijn impact op het werk, de gezondheid en het leven van de Bengalen. De precieze oorzaak van de schommelingen in het zeewaterniveau is onduidelijk. Slechts één feit is meetbaar: het zoutgehalte in de grondwaterspiegel neemt toe. Het leidt tot een kettingreactie aan gebeurtenissen. Landbouw is onmogelijk geworden. De oude beplanting groeit niet meer. Nieuwe inkomstenbronnen worden gezocht. Zo ontwikkelt de garnaalvisserij zich in rap tempo; een manier van geldwinning die minder arbeidskracht vraagt. De garnalenteelt stelt tegelijkertijd steeds meer land bloot aan brak water. Vrouwen moeten dieper de mangrovemoerassen in om drinkwater te halen. Een risicovol gebied waar haaien, krokodillen, cobra's en de Bengaalse tijger leven.

Munem Wasif

Munem Wasif (1983) lives and works in Bangladesh. He is a graduate of Pathshala, the South Asian Institute of Photography. He started his photographic career as a feature photographer for the Daily Star, a leading English daily in Bangladesh. His photographs have been published in numerous national and international publications including Le Monde, Himal Southasian and Asian Geographic.

2. Munem Wasif - LR.jpg
Women procure fresh drinking water
1. Munem Wasif - LR.jpg
Sharashoti and Rubala Munda by filters