Soumya Sankar Bose. From the series ‘A Discreet Exit Through Darkness’, 2020–ongoing. Courtesy the artist and Experimenter, Kolkata & Mumbai


Dates:  15 May  – 7 July 2024
Venue:  Delfina Foundation
Opening times:  Mon – Sun, 12:00 – 18:00
Thursdays until 20:00
Book VR headset
Access information: Please refer to this page.
Questions: exhibitions@delfinafoundation.com

Delve into a blur of memory and imagination, where socio-political upheaval refracts through individual lives.

Braiding dusk and dawn, the first international solo exhibition by multi award-winning Soumya Sankar Bose, delves deep into the lingering traces of the three-year disappearance of the artist’s mother as a child, during a period of political turmoil in her home state of West Bengal.

Alongside images from his well-established photographic practice, this exhibition presents a 360° VR film and a newly commissioned three-channel film, which recount this incident from two different, fragmentary perspectives: that of the artist’s grandfather and mother. Enmeshing fiction and reality, this show develops the artist’s long-term engagement with the experiences of communities in post-Partition Bengal, here circling back to reflect on that of his own family.

Experienced through a VR headset, A Discreet Exit Through Darkness (2023), immerses the viewer in the psychological torment experienced by Bose’s grandfather during the protracted search for his missing daughter. As the reimagined diary entries unfold, the viewer enters a tender yet troubled soul moving through an eerie, dilapidated house, where a radio emits sporadic reports of the riots taking place across the country.

Things We Lost Last Night (2024) is a newly commissioned three-channel film that speculates about the journey of the missing girl through an interior monologue of the now grown-up woman: braiding together a disjointed, hallucinatory tale of unrest, conflicting beliefs, and imagination. Bose’s mother has prosopagnosia (a condition also known as face blindness) and to this day struggles to recount what happened to her during those years. The film is informed by piecemeal accounts from her diary, interspersed with rarely-recounted episodes of the social unrest experienced by West Bengal in the 1960s and 70s — including stories the artist gathered by sifting through hundreds of archival newspapers during his residency at Delfina Foundation in 2022. Built on this research, the oneiric narrative jumps across places, times, and characters, weaving faces and fables of a one-eyed old lady, a Maoist-Naxalite guerrilla, and a trip to the sinking holy town of Joshimath. Through this, Bose ties an intimate family story to the psyche and repressed memories of the upheavals and mass agitations of that period.

Accompanying the films, the exhibition’s photographic works present scenes that seek to visualise the interiority of the subjects themselves. Scattered around the dark immersive gallery space, audiences are encouraged to seek them out using the torches provided.

Artist biography

Soumya Sankar Bose (b. 1990, Midnapore, India) is an artist based in Kolkata, India. He reconstructs archival materials and oral history into photography, films, alternative archives, and artist books. Bose interweaves long-term research and engagement with local communities to accentuates the experiences of the marginalised-yet-resilient of his home post-Partition Bengal. Blending fiction and reality, Bose’s work opens up the realms of memory, desire, vulnerability, and identity.

Soumya Sanker Bose was awarded Magnum Foundation’s Social Justice Fellowship for Full Moon on a Dark Night in 2017, was Hello! India’s Emerging Artist of the Year in 2023, and received the Louis Roederer Discovery Public Award at Les Rencontres d’Arles for A Discreet Exit Through Darkness in 2023. Bose also received The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (Amol Vadehra Art Grant), The Agroecology Fund, Murthy Nayak Foundation Photobook Grant, Henry Luce Foundation grant and India Foundation for the Arts’ grant. Where the Birds Never Sing was selected as PhMuseum’s Best Photobooks of 2020 and shortlisted for the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation First Photobook Award as well as the Lucie Photo Book Prize 2021. His works are in the permanent collections of The Royal Ontario Museum, The Ishara Art Foundation, Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, Les Rencontres d’Arles, Duncan Aviation, and many others. Bose’s work has been reviewed by The New York Times, Art Review Asia, NPR, Granta, BBC, The Caravan, and Indian Express among others. He has also worked on photography commissions for Le Monde, HSBC Bank, Bloomberg Businessweek, Financial Times, The Neue Zürcher Zeitung, and Acumen etc.

Delve into a blur of memory and imagination

Soumya Sankar Bose is represented by Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata and Mumbai, India. In 2022, he was an artist-in-residence at Delfina Foundation.

Content guidelines

The three-channel film contains footage of violence and death.


NOTES ON TIMINGS

Things We Lost Last Night (2024)
Three-channel film, 59 minutes.
Starting on the hour, every hour.

A Discreet Exit Through Darkness (2020 -)
360° VR film, 51 minutes.
Click the button below to book a headset for the VR film. Walk-in visitors will be able to view the VR work if a headset is available at that time.


Artist talk

Dreaming the void
Saturday, 18 May 2024
16:00 – 17:30


COVERAGE


PRESS CONTACT

Helen Gale,
Marketing and Communications Manager

helen@delfinafoundation.com
+44 (0)207 233 5344


CREDITS

This exhibition has been made possible thanks to support from Experimenter and Delfina Foundation’s Network of Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia Patrons. The film A Discreet Exit Through Darkness was supported by MurthyNAYAK Foundation.

Soumya Sankar Bose’s residency at Delfina Foundation in 2022 was supported by Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation and Charles Wallace India Trust.


Next exhibition

Moe Satt (former Delfina Foundation artist-in-residence, 2020)
02 October – 17 November 2024