Edition 2023

PRESENTED BY Experimenter, Kolkata, India.

Soumya Sankar Bose

A Discreet Exit through the Darkness

In 1969, at the tender age of nine, Soumya Sankar Bose’s mother went missing after she went to the neighbourhood confectionery to buy sweets for a religious offering. She was found three years later.

In an effort to piece together the incident related to the disappearance of his mother, Bose examines memory and its shifting nature in A Discreet Exit through the Darkness. Since his mother’s memory of the time was “wiped clean” due to prosopagnosia ‒ a condition that limits her ability to remember the facial features of the traffickers who kidnapped her ‒ Bose attempts to reconstruct the past based on the collective memory of his family members. Through the process, he continuously encounters conflicting accounts and unearths familial traumas resulting from an incident that left the household divided. In the absence of a cohesive record, the story of his mother’s disappearance enters the realm of fantasy, tinged with folklore and superstition.

Working on the edge of fiction ‒ recreating images inspired by real-life events ‒ Bose’s practice plays on photography’s complicated relationship with memory and truth. In acknowledging the speculative potential of the image, this work explores possible scenarios relating to his mother’s abduction, unfolding against the backdrop of the riots that preceded the partition of Bengal in 1971, ongoing at the time. Bose’s maternal grandfather, who was leading the search for his daughter, died the year before she was rescued. With his death, the trail of information on her disappearance was lost forever.

Accompanied by a reading from his grandfather’s fictional diary, Bose takes us on the journey of this search ‒ for his mother, and for that singular narrative that eludes the family that endured this irreparable loss.

Tanvi Mishra

Curator: Tanvi Mishra

With support from the Louis Roederer Foundation and Polka.
With support from Magnum Foundation.

  • Institutional partners

    • République Française
    • Région Provence Alpes Côté d'Azur
    • Département des Bouches du Rhône
    • Arles
    • Le Centre des monuments nationaux est heureux de soutenir les Rencontres de la Photographie d’Arles en accueillant des expositions dans l’abbaye de Montmajour
  • Main partners

    • Fondation LUMA
    • BMW
    • SNCF
    • Kering
  • Media partners

    • Arte
    • Lci
    • Konbini
    • Le Point
    • Madame Figaro
    • France Culture