Tobacco Tale by Sayed Asif Mahmud

Zoom on Sayed Asif Mahmud‘s “Tobacco Tale” series. Since 2008, this young photographer documents Bangladesh’s tobacco industry, particularly the units that produce the bidis, unfiltered hand-rolled cigarettes sold in boxes. If the goal is to highlight the extreme conditions of work in these factories, for “Tobacco Tale”, Sayed Asif Mahmud favored some singular point of view and aesthetics.


The use of analog black and white brings indeed a unique grain and shares in such a way the atmosphere of those places. The image process evacuates the relation to time and emphasizes the feeling of loneliness instilling some part of strangeness into this reality. In the middle of toxic smokes, dust heaps and hard heats, the workers, men, women, and children, use any minute of their time, all year long, to face the quota they are committed to.

And, if this rhythm compromises of course their health, the consumption of the bidis they produce only makes the situation go worst. A report from Canada’s HealthBridge Foundation stated in 2011 a relation between smoking and poverty. This one highlights the correlation between cigarettes consumption and income in the disadvantaged areas. In addition to the health consequences it induces, this addiction takes an important slice of the budget in families already living under the poverty line. “Tobacco Tale”, failing to change the order, helps in alerting the public opinion about this trend.


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