Soumya Sankar Bose | Where The Birds Never Sing: Experimenter - Outpost

December 16, 2021

Experimenter is pleased to present Soumya Sankar Bose’s project Where the Birds Never Sing in Kumirmari, Sundarbans, West Bengal as part of Experimenter Outpost, an iterative exhibitions program outside the physical gallery, where an extension of the program temporarily inhabits unused spaces, imagining a renewed life for them. The programming also inhabits new landscapes and public spaces, rural and remote locations.

Soumya Sankar Bose’s project Where The Birds Never Sing (2017-2020) exhibited at the gallery earlier this year, brought together Bose’s long-term project on the Marichjhapi massacre, the forcible eviction in 1979 of Bengali lower caste refugees from the Marichjhapi Island in Sundarbans, West Bengal, India and the subsequent death of thousands by police gunfire, starvation, and disease. Experimenter Outpost takes this project back to Kumirmari, Sundarbans, near the Marichjhapi island through a series of enlarged reproductions of Bose’s images that mark the landscape.

The images become sentinels, standing as silent witnesses of unspeakable atrocities committed over forty years ago, on a land that whispered into Bose’s ears incredible stories of loss, memory and the complex political history it represents. 

With no official documentation or written records, it is impossible to accurately define the impact on the people who survived and the thousands who perished during the tumultuous Bengal of the late 1970s. Where The Birds Never Sing through Experimenter Outpost attempts to piece together a forgotten narrative revisited through Bose’s long-term engagement with the disenfranchised inhabitants of Marichjhapi island, taking it back to where it all began.

This project, Where The Birds Never Sing, was supported by Magnum Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, India Foundation for the Arts under the Arts Practice Programme and The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (under the aegis of Amol Vadehra Art Grant).

Soumya Sankar Bose (b. 1990) lives and works in Kolkata, India. Bose holds a diploma in photography from Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, Dhaka. Bose was awarded the 2020 Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art's Amol Vadehra Art Grant; His photobook Where the Birds Never Sing  was shortlisted for the Paris Photo–Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Awards. Bose was part of World Press Photo's Joop Swart Masterclass, 2019. In 2018, Bose was awarded Magnum Foundation’s Migration and Religion Grant preceded by Magnum Foundation’s Photography and Social Justice Fellowship award for his project Full Moon on a Dark Night in 2017. His project Let’s Sing an Old Song was awarded India Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2015 & 2017 and he was awarded the Toto Emerging Photographer of the Year award in 2015.

Bose’s work has been shown at several important exhibitions in India and abroad. Select solo and group exhibitions include Where The Birds Never Sing, Experimenter, Kolkata (2021); Goethe-Institut's Five Million IncidentsLet’s Sing an Old Song, Experimenter Outpost, Kolkata, (all 2019); Full Moon on a Dark Night, Experimenter, Kolkata,  Photo Kathmandu, Nepal;  Houston Centre for Photography, Houston, Texas, (all 2018); Chitrabani, Kolkata, & Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata, (all 2016); Goa Photo; Delhi Photo Festival, (all 2015).