For many people of my generation, being with your significant other for six months seems to count as a legitimate long-term relationship. After that, we start to get antsy. The things we used to identify as adorable little quirks become obnoxious habits, and we start to take notice of the luscious green grass on the other side of the fence. When we look at couples in their 50s and 60s still holding each other’s hands, we look with baffled awe and perhaps even admiration. To stay with someone until the very end means we must inevitably see them slip away at the end, or subject them to the emotional struggle of watching us do the same.
In “What Remains,” Bangladeshi photographer Naman Protick Sarker documents the difficult reality as it affected his own grandparents. Through his series of thirty poignant photographs, we witness Sarker’s grandmother, Prova, enjoying her final days with her husband, John. We see photographs of John and Prova as a young couple, and perhaps most painfully, we observe the emptiness left behind in Prova’s absence. The expression John wears in the latter photographs is evidence enough of his loss; without the first few photographs, we could have guessed what transpired from his eyes alone.
Naman Protick Sarker’s images have a washed-out aesthetic about them, enhanced in this series by the pure white walls and muted décor of the home in which they were taken. Bright light pours in through the windows and doors, illuminating Sarker’s subjects and occasionally lending a ghost-like presence to them. The sense of emptiness in the photographs is undeniable, as they represent an end to something prior and a pause in anticipation for what may follow.