When one meets Sarker Protick, he immediately strikes one as a musician. His fingers are slender from having plucked guitar strings for too long, while his eyes are intent and dreamy at the same time. Interestingly though, one wouldn’t be too far off; not so long ago, Protick was indeed part of a band.
“Photography wasn’t a conscious decision on my part. I liked taking pictures and got admitted to Pathshala. For the first two years, I had no idea what I was doing there, except that I really enjoyed taking pictures,” confessed Protick. “In celebration of 12 years of Pathshala, a book was published comprising of some of the more meaningful works from photographers who have emerged from Pathshala – and my work was selected. It was then that I realised that if there was something I liked doing, and I was doing well at it – I might as well keep on doing it.”
‘What Remains’ by Sarker Protick
Protick’s work carries an endearingly original voice. Simple, minimalistic, poignantly personal – his philosophy of less is more is well defined in his photographs. In the story of his grandparents, John and Prova – titled ‘What Remains’ and exhibiting in Chobi Mela VII – Protick relays the sense of waiting, of a life spent between two people and the rekindling of a bond. He admits how he once didn’t enjoy his grandparents company because he didn’t know what to talk about; but as he began photographing them to break the silence, he began rediscovering relationships beyond of what is evident. His grandmother passed away during the project, and Protick began to visit his grandfather more frequently so he had someone to talk to – and now, what began as a simple process of recognition has evolved to an eternity of belonging.
“I often feel artists have a label of being vagabond, particularly in the context of Bangladesh. A responsible institution perhaps guides the artist, and makes him or her realise that being professional and organised is just as much of an art as what is being produced,” shares Protick. “I feel responsible towards the medium, in terms of redefining it and exploring it – but photography for me has always been a personal calling. Many of the best photographers in the world are self-taught, but I’m glad something like Pathshala exists for those who can do better and learn much more than just technicalities.”
Protick essentially feels the best work comes from within the heart. It is important to be hard-working and smart, but it’s more important to have talent, to develop something original that comes from one’s guts. He has lived by it till now and bravely admits he hasn’t regretted it, yet.
by Sabhanaz Rashid Diya