Habiba Nowrose who graduated in Gender Studies and studied documentary photography at Pathshala, Dhaka, began to make a series of staged portraits of women in 2014 that were, in fact, self portraits. Gazing at herself in the mirror, she attempted to decipher her identity as an autonomous being. The concept and treatment for the series emerged when Habiba discovered a cheap, cotton, printed fabric available in every local bazaar. It provided her with a tactile and visual representation of the common woman. Colorful and kitschy the fabric is known as chitkator and Habiba hung it as a backdrop against which she shot her models whom she dressed up in out ts also made from similar looking prints. In doing so Habiba had merged them into their environment, and thus visually they lost their identity – which was exactly the idea that Habiba sought to communicate.
The Life of Venus became Habiba’s second and larger suite of works of women’s portraits that she began in 2017. Continuing to use the same kind of printed fabric as her main visual element, Habiba now selected a female prototype that every woman could relate to. This was the goddess of love, Venus. Appropriating her as her chief protagonist, Habiba now created a narrative ‘scene’ showing the woman within the domestic setup – cooking, serving etc. All characters depicted, like the husband, the woman, her mother, are equally anonymous as their facial features have been blanked out, and they have become puppet-like. They are featureless and appear as lifeless as the objects around them….beautiful, colourful, but without the animation of life.