Growing Like A Tree: Sent A Letter
14 December 2022 - 15 May 2023 ︎READ MORE

INSTALLATION VIEW: Sunaparanta’ Goa 2022. Photo Courtesey: Sohrab Hura.

Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts in partnership with the Ishara Art Foundation announce the opening of Growing Like A Tree: Sent A Letter, a curatorial debut by Bunu Dhungana and Sadia Marium Rupa.

Solo exhibition by Sarker Protick looks at the unyielding passage of time.

Through his mediated exploration of light and time, the photographer looks at the traces of time and how a photograph can capture it while telling stories of migration and loss.

by Sukanya Deb

Invested in the formations of light and time that denote the creation of a photograph, Bangladeshi photographer Sarker Protick’s most recent solo exhibition Nirobodhi / Till Time Stands Still at Shrine Empire, New Delhi, considers a complex formation of memory, materiality and medium.

Protick presents two new series of photographic works that span across a decade of research, exploration and contemplation, adjoined with a film or rather, a moving image work. Throughout his artistic career, the intangibility of light and time has been a point of interest for Protick, as he tells STIR. The invisibility and immateriality of the two mediums being depicted through what can be conceived of as the harsh, often collapsed lens of photography, Protick’s works seek to delineate a stillness that is perhaps a split second, or the movement of a decade. His photographic works themselves have a tendency to develop over a period of time, often taking years to settle and reach a point of articulation. Protick added, “In general, when I started [practising photography] I was interested in this tangibility of time––about how time can be tangible in our surroundings, consciousness or history.”

Jirno / Ruins series, 2016-ongoing, Image Courtesy of the artist and Shrine Empire.

Nirobodhi starts with the premise of the fracturing, traumatic dissection of Bengal as a region, that began with its sectioning into West Bengal and East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) on the basis of religious division. The political and religious division of the subcontinent into Pakistan and India resulted in decades of strife and lack of resolution as can be seen in the eventual formation of Bangladesh as an assertion of identity through its Liberation War in 1971, decades after independence from British rule. To this day, a complex web of relations and political grievances affects geopolitical and cultural relations between the three nations, despite their shared history. Through his series of works presented in conversation with one another, Protick addresses the theme of migration in particular, through the personal as well as the archaeological.

Installation view: Jirno / Ruins at Nirobodhi at Shrine Empire. Image Courtesy of the artist and Shrine Empire

Protick talks about his initial foray into finding archaeological sites that were intermittent and hidden from the all-seeing eye of nation-building, yet crucial to the formation of towns in Bangladesh. Through the state-run Department of Archeology, it was often difficult for him to find information that was reliable and continued to be historically accurate. His field research for the series that came to be Jirno / Ruins looked at abandoned feudal or landowner estates from pre-Colonial India.

The artist tells STIR, “When I was looking at these spaces I realised that these are also images of migration, but we are not seeing the movement. We are only seeing what happens over time when a large number of people migrate from one nation to another, and what happens to another, structurally and architecturally, or through the landscape. [...] I was interested in looking at Partition, but I was also aware that these places are little documented, not just photographically or visually, but even in written form.”

From the series, Mr and Mrs Das, 2012-16, Image: Courtesy of the artist and Shrine Empire

Protick’s photographic series which documents his grandparents’ life and home, eventually came to include archival material in relation to their own migrations. The photographic series titled Mr and Mrs Das, in reference to Protick’s now-deceased grandparents, documents their home and domestic life in their old age. The passage of time becomes a part of the subject matter as we see a combination of livelier, younger archival photographs that document a collective familial life being set up, and more recent starker photographs depicting their old age through a sense of decay and loss.

Installation image of ‘Mr and Mrs Das’ at Nirobodhi at Shrine Empire. Image: Courtesy of the artist and Shrine Empire

Given their Christian background in a Muslim-majority country, the representation of their lives through the personal becomes a window into the plural identities that continue to exist in a world that considers identity in a regimented fashion. While identity is one of the most politicised issues in the contemporary political landscape, this project explores the complexities of assigned and cultural identities through lived experience. As we sense a parallel building of life that is occurring against the backdrop of a new nation, initially as East Pakistan, and two decades later as Bangladesh, there are pieces of movement that one can retrieve through the photographs, while the moments themselves seek and yet refuse to be held.

In reference to the act of meaning-making in photography, Protick says, “As a reader or an author, how do you create space where the reader can also construct their own world in their head? The visual medium has that challenge - that it can limit your possibility.” With this seemingly contradictory diktat of the photograph to grasp at what it yearns to hold, Protick extends his enquiry to the hybridity of medium that is attuned to the generative, sensory overload that our smartphone-dominated world. The visual artist presents a film or moving image work titled Raśmi / Ray that is constructed out of triptychs of photographs layered with a subtle, abstracted yet effective soundscape, scored by Protick himself. Sources of light seem adversarial as atmospheric views are collapsed into everyday spaces. At points it appears hopeful when it is paired with single-sentence texts, but at other points, there remains an undulating current that emerges from the movement of the impressions of photographs.

Still from Raśmi / Ray, 2017-20, Film. Image: Courtesy of – the artist and Shrine Empire


︎  https://tinyurl.com/3saacmem









Sarkar Protick’s exhibition on view ‘নিরবধি’ which loosely translates to ‘Till Time Stands Still’, gathers the sensorial temporalities of stillness that permeate political and personal histories that he refers to in the works on view, carrying us into distended futures collapsing upon themselves in the everyday.


In the making since 2016, in Jirno (Ruins) we encounter the material memory of the Partition of Bengal in 1947, that presents in his photographs as derelict, uncanny, dream-like formations reclaimed by the natural world. These spaces, abandoned to suspended time, are not archeologies that locate amnesia, but through them the lingering temporality of loss and longing receives manifestation—the impossibility of surpassing the moment of the traumatic split even as continued social and political crises of the subsequent decades threaten to bury it. The time-space matrix contained by Jirno holds in all its fragility the even more layered complexities of Partition memories that sustain: the divisive policies of the British Empire which continue to inform communal discord and suspicion towards identities that were forcibly othered in the national imagination; the complicity of the feudal ruling class on both sides of historically porous and precarious regional configurations, reverberating in the Victorian-inspired architecture; and exodus towards a state of perpetual, intergenerational exile.

Mr. and Mrs. Das inscribes the altered temporal domain occupied by an elderly couple, who happen to be Protick’s grandparents, in the twilight of their lives, confined by age, purpose and their own bodies within the walls of an old apartment from the 1960s, their chosen home in Dhaka after decades of work and raising their family.

MR. & MRS. DAS, DELHI, 2022.

Unable to match the frenzied rhythms of a erstwhile life spent in service to the Baptist Church, and with most of their children living in far away geographies, their isolation receives respite in transient moments of tenderness and contemplation witnessed by their grandson on his visits and by each corner of their home that had become the entirety of the rest of their lives. The psychological time of a different form of exile appears in another tenor here, and is accompanied by the familial archives of the couple who despite always living in different parts of present-day Bangladesh their whole lives, have assumed three different nationalities—that of British India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.


The fragility of light, space and time in Protick’s works hurtle into overwhelming rapidity of contemporary urban experiences in Rashmi as time collapses into a dizzying continuum. Constituted from images captured by Protick daily of his surroundings and encounters from his travels—defying geo-political anchors—for a period of three years, the moving-image work marks the existential anxieties, sensorial excess and continued accelerationism as we drown in the dregs of civilizational ambition. The cacophonous ticking of the visual and sonic cues in this work instils in us the sense of glowing embers just moments before they recede into absolute stillness, darkness and silence. Just as ashes speak of the annihilatory glory and fury they were once capable of, we are left with after-images that carry the imprints of mortality and transience.

— Anushka Rajendran, 2022