St. Edward’s welcomes Geoffrey Hiller for a look inside the Bangladesh Project


Juan Diaz / Hilltop Views

“The Bangladesh Project” is comprised of photos documenting life in the impoverished South Asian country.

Students, faculty and patrons of the arts gathered at the Fine Arts Center Gallery to witness the work of renowned documentary photographer Geoffrey Hiller last Thursday afternoon. The Bangladesh Project allows for a look inside the world of millions of individuals attempting to coexist in a fast-paced, yet overcrowded environment.

The array of photographs tasked him with the decision of what to include from the various Project series, as well as many more taken in Dhaka, Bangladesh between August 2008 and May 2009.

“Twelve pictures, that’s only a small portion of what I took,” Hiller said. “I took and edited over 40,000 pictures in the nine months I was there.”

Hiller documented a heightened experience of everyday life in a predominantly Muslim nation through stills of men, women and children. The subjects were often shown working in the market streets and in the industrial building sites or commuting and enduring heavy traffic.

“There were millions of people in this city and auto rickshaws are everywhere,” Hiller said. “With traffic jams it could take an hour and a half to travel eight miles.”

The striking images bear witness to a chaotic atmosphere without disregarding the spaces the people in the city built for religion and friends. One particular image found under a collection Hiller titled “Simple Pleasures” was displayed depicting the optimistic nature that can be found amongst Bangladeshis regardless of their political and environmental climate.

In the same breath, The Bangladesh Project is a fresh reminder to recognize the ever-present differences between American life and life in other countries.

The students who attended the opening reception had the overarching idea that Hiller’s work was an interesting variation of being either very busy or very calm. So busy that when a student noted there was a small post-office parody named “NeedEx” in one image, Hiller noted he found it funny and had definitely missed it himself. He insists that is what inspires much of his organic perspective.

“I like busy environments; there’s a lot to work with,” Hiller said.

The pouring rain didn’t make the event itself any less of a busy environment. Every other minute someone new came in to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and to spark up a conversation with the artist, who had business cards and readily answered questions..

Geoffrey Hiller’s photo essays and multimedia web documentaries have amassed him an audience across the world that includes award-winning recognition and features in publications such as The New York Times, National Geographic, Mother Jones and Newsweek. His work, spanning over decades, has been showcased in many galleries, but he keeps a digital portfolio for anyone and everyone to access, including an entire blog dedicated to the nine months he spent in the capital of Bangladesh as a Fulbright Scholar.

Currently, the photographer is making a mark in other formats with his recently published book “Daybreak in Myanmar: Photographs by Geoffrey Hiller,” and is continuing to travel to other countries to create more content for the public to learn about and get inspired from.