Introverts aren’t shut-ins by nature. We like going out, too.
We don’t spend every weekend sleeping in, binge-eating and chilling with Netflix. Some weekends, we also hang out with friends, catch up on our to-be-read book piles and attend family functions.
This was one such weekend. But it was also more special.
Imagine walking through an ordinary, cast-iron gate and walking past an intimidating guard dog. You walk into a small cubicle-filled space covering a measly three hundred square feet, carrying little more than low expectations and a touch of curiosity. You expected to see some framed photographs, hung on dim, white walls. Instead, you find yourself pulled into warm hugs, catching up with friends and getting to know strangers, and wondering where that scent of freshly brewed coffee was coming from.
Suddenly, you are comfortable, and feeling right at home.
More than an Exhibition
Imbue Presents: A Thousand Words 2018 photo exhibition is the first of its kind. Taking place on 17th and 18th August at Chitrak Gallery, the event, organized by Litmosphere, featured Bookstagram art- photographs of books and other bibliophile accessories taken by bookworms. Activities ranged from storytelling to open mic sessions, and the space also included a cafe and separate stalls from partners and book vendors.
The exhibitions included 55 photographs, picked meticulously by Mahmud Hossain Opu, Sazzad Ibne Sayeed and Munem Wasif, who served as judges for the selection process. When you looked at the photographs, presented by Jewel Paul in artful installations uniquely arranged according to the theme of each photo, and then you observe the wholesome crowd observing the photographs and each other, you felt a sense of innate communion.
These were more than photographs: they brought bookworms from all over Dhaka together, lending a tangible air to the thriving online community of Litmosphere.
These were labors of love, speaking to all five senses, and for the book lovers, it also spoke to their hearts and souls.
So Many Books, So Little Time
The event marked the two year anniversary of Litmosphere, an online Facebook community with over five thousand members. Amimul Ihsan, one of the moderators, came up with the idea during a sleepless night, at 4 am. “Then we approached Elita Karim and Sabrina Fatma Ahmed, who honestly helped us so much in making this dream a reality,” said Rubaiya Tasnim, the founder of Litmosphere. “They encouraged us and showed us the ropes, guiding us gently. This is the first time we have organized such an event,” she said, further congratulating her team, who executed everything as per Rubaiya’s instructions, who lives abroad.
“It was different because the photos were focused on books and the people who visited love books,” mentioned Zaima Hamid Zoa, one of the attendees. “My friend is one of the co-founders of Newton’s Archive so I even got to sell themed candles with them, which was really fun.”
“When I walked around the empty gallery, before setting everything up, I realized how much I loved company of books,” said Mushsharat Azad, a volunteer. “The setting was visually satisfying, even for me, who has never visited an exhibition before.”
Kindness and Warmth
Featuring partners such as the Daily Star Youth, Newton’s Archive and Dhaka FM, the exhibition also featured fundraising for a handicapped bookseller, Mohammad Abdul Gofur, commonly known to the group members as “Lit Mama”. In the months prior, he had already became a symbol of resilience and compassion. His presence brought joy to the visitors, who hungrily hoarded his book collections.
“It did not feel like I was working for a split second,” reminisced Mahinoor Ekram, one of Litmosphere’s moderators.
Mahinoor was also a key contributor to the organizing effort. “I was surrounded by people I love and care about. I feel like the exhibition changed something in all of us.”
“The photographs displayed were of great quality and the environment felt like a family picnic,” said Sarah Hoque, a visitor.
The event set a benchmark for self-organized literary events. Following in the steps of similar events such as MIB: Spirit and Dhaka Litfest, it represents the shifting tides of creativity and literary discussions in the heart of Dhaka. Litmosphere itself continues to be an unique fusion of online and offline sensibilities, marrying convenience with warmth and heart.
We hope to attend more soulful events such as these in the days to come. They make going out and hanging out with peers a much more pleasant affair. If we were to use two words to sum up this weekend’s bookish saga, they would be: warm and wholesome.