Imagine being so close to Martin Luther King Jr. as he gives one of the world's most famous speeches that you notice the creases in his face and then realize the late civil rights leader is looking you square in the eye.
That's the intense personal moment organizers are striving for with a one-of-a-kind virtual reality exhibit opening Friday at Chicago's DuSable Museum of African American History. Called "The March," it captures the 1963 March on Washington during which King delivered his iconic "I Have a Dream" address.
"The speech is so well known and the ways people are used to seeing it is kind of archival, grainy two-dimensional film," said Mia Tramz, an editorial director of immersive experiences at TIME, which helped create the project. "By being able to see it with your own two eyes and feel like you're standing there, you not only get the message of the words, but the message of the energy that he put behind those words."
The project has the rare full backing from King's estate, which fiercely guards his likeness and speeches. The high-tech effort took years of research on King's gestures and expressions, as well as interviews with attendees.
Creators said it was inspired by an archive image of King giving a different speech on the National Mall, shot from his perspective looking out. TIME, which features King in a March issue, worked with companies including a production studio run by actress Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon. Davis narrates part of the project.
Visitors start in an dark empty room with audio of people involved in key events leading up to the march. One is Hank Thomas, who was a Freedom Rider — activists who protested segregation by sitting in bus seats reserved for whites and who experienced violence and jail.
After that, attendees are outfitted with heavy virtual reality headsets that block out the outside world and replace it with three-dimensional glimpses of Aug. 28, 1963, on the National Mall. In what sometimes looks like a video game, visitors march along Constitution Avenue and then stand in the crowd of some 250,000.
Then the scenery changes again. Visitors find themselves standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and an arm's length from King, whose hand gestures and facial expressions are brought to life. After delivering part of the speech, he walks by and locks eyes, a moment creators say is unparalleled.
"You're not listening to it. You're not reading it. You are actually in it. And there is a point that you're listening to it for the first time because you're experiencing it, because you're actually there," Davis said. "It's those experiences that are unforgettable."
The permission from King's estate was also unusual.
Run by King's children and known to be litigious, the estate closely guards any use of King's image, name and work. The estate initially balked at plans to put a life-size commemorative King statue at the Georgia Capitol and didn't grant rights to speeches for the 2014 film "Selma," which won an Oscar for the best original song and was nominated for best picture.
Tramz declined to discuss how the project got the estate's backing. Messages left for Atlanta-based Intellectual Properties Management, which manages King's estate and controls rights to his works and images, weren't returned.
The experience isn't for the faint of heart. Participants must sign a liability waiver warning of possible risks, such as dizziness, and there's a built-in "decompression zone." The 15-minute experience isn't recommended for children under 13.
There are also limitations.
Only four people can go through simultaneously and technology-related snags happen. During a media preview attended by the Associated Press, the screen blacked out and images were blurry at times.
Creators said the technology is being fine-tuned but that such glitches aren't unusual given the amount of wireless data being streamed to the headsets.
The exhibit runs until November. Creators plan to replicate the technology in other museums to recreate the exhibit. Details aren't finalized.
Organizers hope the experience inspires civic engagement.
"(It) makes you want to pick up that sign. Makes you want to go out and vote. Makes you want to go out and make somebody else's life better," Tennon said.
The first-ever Indian transgender woman recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri award and noted Bharatanatyam guru, Dr Narthaki Nataraj, was honoured here on Friday.
Bandhu Social Welfare Society, a Bangladeshi charity and community-based organization, arranged the felicitation ceremony at the main auditorium of the National Museum in honour of the dancer who received Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award of India, in 2019.
UNDP Country Director Sudipto Mukherjee handed over the crest of honour at the ceremony to the dancer. Bandhu Social Welfare Society Chairperson Anisul Islam Hero and Executive Director Saleh Ahmed were also present on the occasion.
Dr Narthaki presented a dance performance at the event and expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the organisers and people of Bangladesh.
Bandhu’s transgender community dance group, “Shatta’ (Essence of Soul), also performed at the ceremony.
Born in Tamil Nadu, India, Dr Narthaki Natarah became the first-ever transgender woman in the world to receive a top civilian award, after being felicitated with the Padma Shri in 2019. She received an Honorary Doctorate degree from Periyar Maniammai University, India in 2016.
Honouring her legacy and career as an icon empowering the marginalised transgender community, Tamil Nadu School Education Department introduced a lesson about Nataraj in the Tamil textbook for Plus One (11th Standard) students in 2018.
Eminent economist, former Governor of Bangladesh Bank and Bangabandhu Chair Professor of Dhaka University Dr Atiur Rahman said he will continue inspiring the young generation through enlightening them more about the life and works of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
“The fascinating fact about our youth of Bangladesh is that they are eager to learn about Bangabandhu’s politics, his life, work and philosophy – who himself was an institution. I want to continue working to quench their thirst to learn about Bangabandhu,” Dr Atiur said at the launching event of his new book titled ‘Bangabandhu Bangladesher Proticchobi’ at Unnayan Shamannay conference room, Banglamotor in the capital.
“While I am entitled to help our youth to discover Bangabandhu in new lights, at the same time I want to enlighten the readers of West Bengal too about Bangabandhu,” he said about his new book.
Jointly published by Gourob Publishers from Dhaka and Sampark Publishers from Kolkata, the book was inaugurated by eminent cultural personality Syed Hasan Imam and renowned folklore researcher and Chairman of the board of trustees of Bangladesh National Museum, Shamsuzzaman Khan.
“Dr. Atiur has successfully presented an objective review of the life and works of Bangabandhu in this book. Such research-based works are of critical importance to ensure that Bangabandhu is rightly presented to the masses,” Syed Hasan Imam said on Dr Atiur’s new publication.
Shamsuzzaman Khan said that the book will fill the void of not having quality books written on Bangabandhu to a significant extent.
“This book, on the one hand, will meet the demands of the researchers - and on the other hand, will be able to cater to the demand of the general readers,” he said at the launching event.
Sunandan Roy Choudhury from Sampark Publishers, S. M. Iftekhar Mahmud from Gourob Publishers, researchers, intellectuals and journalists also attended the book launching ceremony, among others.
The four-day ‘3rd Art Festival 2020, Nilphamari’ began on the bank of famous dighi (large pond) Nilsagar in Nilphamari district on Wednesday.
However, the festival will officially be inaugurated on Thursday.
Visiting the venue, it was found that the participants were registering their names on the first day.
The venue was decorated in a colourful way with an attractive stage for the formal inauguration. Artists were also found busy for the last-minute preparations.
Some 200 students of different schools in the district also gathered at a local school in the morning adjacent to the venue to meet potential and prominent artists coming from different parts of the country and abroad, learn from them and exchange their experience with them.
The participating foreign artists along with the local ones have already arrived in the district to attend the programme.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid will be present at the formal opening ceremony as the chief guest.
Eminent artist Prof Rafiqun Nabi will inaugurate the festival while cultural personality Asaduzzaman Noor will preside over the programme.
Eminent artist Prof Mohammad Eunus is the convener of the festival organising committee while award-winning artist Md Harun-Ar-Rashid Tutul, an assistant professor at the Graphic Design department of Dhaka University’s Faculty of Fine Art, is its curator.
Tutul said the international art camp will be a lifetime great experience for the school-going artists.
They can also experience the way of painting of the prominent artists directly which will motivate them.
The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Nature is Life, Art for Brighter Life’.
Artists will paint as they like while organisers will provide them with art supplies, food and accommodation.
The festival will feature an international art camp by eminent artists from Bangladesh and beyond, art exhibitions, curated art projects, artist's talk, seminar, cultural programmes, traditional folk art and craft fair, installation, campfire and sightseeing tours.
An exhibition will be held on February 29 while another exhibition of the same paintings will be arranged from April 24 to April 30.
The organisers said the main goal is to introduce a healthy culture against the backdrop of poor taste, from cities to the remote countryside of Bangladesh, travelling beyond the realms of time.
The art festival aims to inspire artists to create innovative artworks, in a quiet place beyond the chaotic city life. Renowned artists from home and abroad will share their experiences and views on art with school students during the event, they said.
The mega event will end with an exclusive exhibition of the paintings of the participants on February 29.
‘Jatiya Pitha Utsab-1426’ (National Rice Cake Festival) began on the premises of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy (BSA) in the capital on Sunday.
Jatiya Pitha Utsab Udjapan Parishad (Committee for National Cake Festival Celebration), alongside BSA, have jointly organised the festival to delight the city dwellers with the unbeatable tastes of traditional pithas (rice cakes).
Started back in January, 2008 for the first time- this year marks the 13th edition of this annual festival.
State Minister for Cultural Affairs K M Khalid inaugurated the 10-day festival as the Chief Guest. Honorary President of the International Theatre Institute (ITI) Ramendu Majumdar, ‘Mancha Sarathi’-famed veteran theatre activist Ataur Rahman, Bangladesh Nritya Shilpi Sangstha President Minu Haque attended the inaugural ceremony as the special guests, among others.
Presided over by the BSA DG Liaquat Ali Lucky- who filled the role of Convenor of the committee overlooking the arrangement of the festival, the inauguration ceremony was also attended by the committee’s president, M Hamid, who was the main speaker at the event, while member secretary Khandakar Shah Alam and BSA Secretary Badrul Anam Bhuiyan delivered welcome speeches.
“The winter season in Bangladesh is unimaginable without Pitha- a food item which gradually has become a part of the urban life as well in recent years. The Ministry of Cultural Affairs is glad to be associated with this festival and the organizers deserve applause for regularly arranging the yearly festival,” K M Khalid said in his speech.
Following the inauguration, a cultural programme was arranged where artistes entertained the audience with traditional songs, dance recitals and recitation. The cultural programme will continue every evening for the length of the festival.
The Ministry of Cultural Affairs and Square Food & Beverage Limited (SFBL) are jointly sponsoring this year’s festival.
Generally held in January every year, the 13th edition had to be delayed because of the DNCC and DSCC Elections, said the organizers.
With a total of 50 stalls representing 40 districts of Bangladesh, the 13th edition of this annual festival featuring approximately 200 types of Pithas (cakes) at BSA premises from 3 pm to 9 pm till March 3, 2020.