Installation view of Temporary Certainty a t 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, clockwise left to right: Sarker Protick, Elegy to Empire (f rom the series Exodus), 2015–ongoing, installation view at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, black & white photographs (selection of 19); 22.5 x 28.0 cm (each photograph); courtesy the artist. Sarker Protick, Arrival (from the series Exodus) , 2015–ongoing, single-channel HD video and sound installation; 8:00 mins; courtesy the artist.
Sarker Protick’s Exodus (2015–ongoing) considers the expediencies of decolonisation while at the same time being a haunting meditation on the universal contingencies of time. Over a selection of photographs and moving image, the artist explores the decaying buildings and surrounding lands of the feudal estates in East Bengal that were previously owned by Hindu jamindars, or landlords. Following the Liberation War of 1971 that abruptly established the newly independent nation of Bangladesh, huge migrations took place across Bengal. This saw wealthy Hindu landowners abandon their estates for India in fear of the kind of violent reprisals that had erupted following the Partition of India in 1947, while at the same time many Muslims fled West Bengal heading east. A series of controversial laws dating from 1948, culminating in the Vested Property Act of 1974, allowed the confiscation of property by Bangladeshi authorities from groups declared ‘enemies of the state’. Since then, these estates have commonly been left in disrepair, taken over by nature and appropriated by local villagers—another chapter in a landscape indelibly marked by the influence of Mughal rule and British imperialism.