Soumya Sankar Bose is a documentary photographer whose conceptual projects chronicle disappearing narratives.Read More
Soumya Sankar Bose was born in Midnapore, Kolkata in 1990. After finishing a degree in Engineering, Soumya embarked on a more creative trajectory and completed a Diploma in Photography from Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Dhaka.
'Let's Sing an Old Song' (2011–2015) is a series based on the theatrical rituals and practices of United Bengal (Bangladesh and West Bengal). Drawing on the experiences that the artist's uncle faced as a Jatra actor, the work anthropologically documents the disappearance of this folk theatre form. This cultural loss is recorded via the remembrance of experience, resulting in a charged photographic archive.
Documenting marginalised communities is where the essence of Sankar Bose's work lies. His series on the LGBTQ+ community, 'Full Moon on A Dark Night' (2015) exemplifies the struggle of communities that are subject to the prejudices of an orthodox society. The series sensitively explores the trauma of identity, existence, and memory. Questioning the heteronormative template of a relationship, Sankar Bose captures intimate moments of relationships that do not conform.
'Where the Birds Never Sing' (2017–2020) recounts events that seminally altered history by visualising the Marichjhapi massacre of 1979. The forcible eviction and execution of lower caste Bengalis was retold to Sankar Bose by survivors of the massacre. He remarks in an interview, 'when I'm starting this project, it's already too late,' expressing how the generation prior to the one he worked with would have witnessed everything first-hand. Nevertheless, the authenticity of this documentation elucidates how deep the quest for narrative, memory, and identity is. Lesser-known histories come to light through the artist's lens, as an ongoing witness to a painful moment in time.
Selected solo exhibitions include Where the Birds Never Sing, Experimenter, Kolkata (2021); Let's Sing an Old Song, Experimenter Outpost, Kolkata (2019); and Full Moon on a Dark Night, Experimenter, Kolkata (2016). Group exhibitions include Photo Kathmandu, Nepal (2018); Margin and Center, Houston Center for Photography (2018); SepiaEYE, New York (2018); Five Million Incidents, Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata (2016); Goa Photo, India (2015); and Delhi Photo Festival (2015).
Soumya Sankar Bose has received multiple awards, including the Magnum Foundation's Photography and Social Justice Fellowship (2017). His work has been published in The New York Times, The Telegraph, British Journal of Photography, BBC Online, among others. 'Where the Birds Never Sing' was published as a photobook in 2020, and was also shortlisted for the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation First Photobook Award 2020. 'A Discreet Exit through the Darkness', a series based on the disappearance of his mother when she was a child, has been converted into a portfolio box of 15 postcards.
Moksha Kumar | Ocula | 2021