Munem Wasif

Seeds Shall Set Us Free II

Back to collections
Munem Wasif, Seeds Shall Set Us Free II, 2021, Cyanotype prints, Inkjet prints, drawings (via photographs), dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist. Art Jameel Collection

Artwork Details


Munem Wasif


Seeds Shall Set Us Free II




Cyanotype prints, Inkjet prints, drawings (via photographs)



Credit Line

Art Jameel Collection

Work Description

Rice is the world’s most widely consumed food. In Bangladesh it has a contentious history, complicated present and fragile future. Under British colonialism, domestic rice production was suppressed in favour of cash crops for the global market such as indigo and jute. This caused  one of the worst man-made famines in history, killing over two million people. Today, 78% of Bangladesh’s arable land is occupied by rice, and yet despite abundant harvests, the country was forced to import significant quantities of rice during the pandemic, with large volumes of the harvest primarily directed towards export. Bangladesh is a country particularly vulnerable to climate change, yet continued reliance on a concept of food security that is rooted in transnational agro-companies for food supply and export of agricultural products results in continued monocultures and ecological destruction.  

Seeds are the foundation of food systems, they carry the keys to biodiversity and climate change resilience, representing centuries of indigenious knowledge and care. Seed diversity and access to this diversity have eroded substantially over the past 100 years due to the development of hybrid seed types, patents, and global trade agreements. 

Seeds Shall Set Us Free II explores stories of Bangladeshi rice through a combination of cyanotypes of rice grains and plants; archive documents; and photographs from one of the largest community seed banks in the country. Collaborating with research-based organisation UBINIG (Unnayan Bikalper Nitinirdharoni Gobeshona, the Policy Research for Development Alternatives), which currently includes more than 100,000 farming families, this movement promotes indigenous agricultural knowledge to protect seed biodiversity, non-chemical interventions and workers’ well-being.

Artist Biography

Munem Wasif (b. 1983, Bangladesh)’s photography and films investigate complex social and political issues with a  humanistic language. He has exhibited worldwide including Center Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo and Visa pour  l’image in France, Whitechapel Gallery, Kettle’s Yard and the V&A in London,  Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona in Spain, Musee de elysee, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire and  Fotomuseam Winterthur in Switzerland, Kunsthal museum and Noordelicht festival in  Netherlands, Museum of Modern Art in Poland, Parasite in Hong Kong, The Factory Contemporary Arts Centre in Vietnam, Gwangju biennale in Korea, Singapore biennale, Sharjah Bienalle in UAE, Asia Pacific Triennial of contemporary art in Australia, Dhaka Art summit and Chobi Mela in Bangladesh. Wasif was a Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany from 2020-2021.