Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 1973, Jannatul Mawa holds a Masters degree in Bengali literature. She studied photography at the Pathshala Institute in Dhaka, where she now teaches. Before beginning a career as a photographer for UNICEF she was a longtime women's rights activist. Her work has been shown in Bangladesh, India, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
Curator: Kevin Wy Lee
Jannatul Mawa grew up in Dhaka in a middle class environment in which the servants lived under the same roof as their employers. So there was a kind of proximity in spite of the social gap, and it is this paradox that she has set out to explore in the series Close Distance. By posing her identically framed housewives and their employees side by side in similar settings she gives almost palpable expression to the silent interplay between domination and subjection. While minimalist and deliberately repetitive, this stratagem in no way detracts from the insightfulness Jannatul Mawa brings to bear on her community. She is grateful to her subjects for having agreed to her proposal – these affluent women could easily have said no – but this does not exclude her challenging of the Zamindari (landed aristocracy) system that is the basis of the class relationships she portrays.