Labyrinth by Munize Manzur and Arif Hafiz
Labyrinth is a tale of the slum of Korail told through still images and words by Munize Manzur and Arif Hafiz. For outsiders Korail slum may seem to be place full of filth, squalor. But for the people who live there, the place has all the charms that any habitat would have. The insight of the co-authors captures the liveliness of the slum. The two mediums- photography and creative voice- blend together to narrate the different contours and paths taken by the slum dweller. In spite of themselves being outsiders, the co-authors seem very much respectful to the people they portray in their book. The clash between self and the other remains absent and that is what makes the book an honest delineation of Korail slum.
Munize Manzur, with her depth of understanding, hears voice of the silent characters of the images of the unheard residents in the slum. Her imaginative power make the narration with each photograph a lyric of magical accounts of the Korail people. Readers are bound to stop and ponder for a while when one reads the story of a young man who sells the legs of chicken or the detailed description of shaving in men’s saloon or the reflection of a young girl’s inner thoughts who dreams to get a high-paid respected job while she learns alphabets from a Sir of BRAC school.
And Arif Hafiz creates a magic with his photographs by making his camera a wizard’s wand to change the familiar scenario into a realm of possibilities and aspirations. He does see things “differently” as he claims. He captures the moment in his four-walled snaps with utmost honesty as the images speaks the stories of the people who are the protagonist of his photo stories. He celebrates the sparkling smile of a little, the grand silence of day workers, and the innocence of a little who waits on the threshold of her tin thatched space for the return of her parents in such elegance that the humanity and spirit of human life makes a resonance through his photographs.