“Of River and Lost Lands” is Sarker Protick’s meditation on the grey, melancholic landscape of the river Padma (Ganges) in Bangladesh.
The river is the central character in the story – but like the majority of Protick’s works the light also shares a stage with this character and is a protagonist in it’s own right. His use of lighting technique – a form of high key exposure – creates a strange mood both delicate and surreal that helps tell the story of the monsoon and how it plays out on this landscape. Significantly, in this case, white is also the color of loss, sadness and mourning in Bangladesh.
At first, the place seems abandoned, almost drowned. Broken houses and floating trees are all that remain. These are traces of life that were once here. As the series continues, the land and the people come into view and find their place in the story. Together they portray a complex relationship between nature and human beings that is intimate yet ruthless, defined by dependency and destruction.
“Of River and Lost Lands”, which deals with the contemporary relationship between people and nature in Bangladesh, in the context of the devastating damage and loss of land caused each year during monsoon season. The river brings wealth and good fortune, but equally and paradoxically takes it way. Year in, and year out. The exhibition shows the direct, visible and palpable effects of changes in climate in the final form of irregular devastating monsoons, resulting in increased river erosion in Bangladesh. Most of the places seen in these photographs do not exist anymore. As a result, these photographs survive as visual documents of such vanished lands.
The set of images though is more than a simple document of the causes and solutions of this event –it’s a poetic and subtle look at the river as muse. It’s as much emotional as it is factual, time seems suspended, land and space meditated upon. In keeping with Protick’s oeuvre to date – it’s a collection of raw beauty.
The still images in this exhibition are accompanied by an audio-visual installation.
Sarker Protick is a visual artist from Bangladesh. Protick was named in British Journal of Photography’s annual ‘Ones to Watch’. He is the recipient of Joop Swart Masterclass, Magnum Foundation Fund, World Press Photo award and the Australian Photobook of the Year grand prize. His work has been shown in museums and galleries worldwide. He is currently represented by East Wing Gallery and a faculty member at the Pathshala-South Asian Media Institute.
— Samantha Reinders