Swapan Nayak (b. 1965) is an independent photographer based in Kolkata, India. He started working professionally in 1995 and has since carried out a number of editorial assignments for both national and international publications. His previous exhibitions in India include the 2007 - 2008 show, ‘Nowhere People and Refugees in Their Own Land’, also at Tasveer. The National Foundation for India awarded Nayak the National Media Fellowship in 2002 – 2003 and in 2006 he received the Nirmaan Photography Fellowship. For the period of 2009 – 2011, The Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India also honored Nayak with the National Senior Fellowship in photography. The photographs shown here form part of a long-term metaphorical series by the artist, and mark a departure from his celebrated photojournalism. The title of the exhibition, ‘Being and Nothingness’ is taken from Jean-Paul Sartre’s 1943 treatise of the same name.
Being & Nothingness
Each of my five senses has contributed significantly in enriching my life and work. I believe that ideas don’t die. They get stored. My world is a storehouse of such ‘ideas’. You could call them memories. At every stage of my life, the past, and the long-forgotten, resurface to throw light on the present. Which is why I seek a kind of quiet. It helps me to connect with my past. Makes it possible for me to explore what I have come to recognize as my ‘roots’. My beginnings. The journey of my life is a story of migration - from a sleepy village to an unrelenting city. I lost my possessions - the unfettered view of the sky, the congress of the birds, acres of green and innocence. I grew up, not the way I intended. Then I looked beyond the city, beyond the confines of the home and neighborhood, beyond the cacophony of the mundane and the familiar to seek life anew. The more I sought, the more it slipped away, and the world opened up even further - the world within and the world without. The barriers I had known all my life, crumbled. I try to discover myself once again beyond the purview of the five senses. What is the beginning, what signals the end, I wonder? At best, life and death are two transit points in this gigantic universe. The rest is all consumed by a nothingness that even time cannot defy. As I stare at the vacuum, the mind becomes a flicker of fleeting images, with shadows between the frames. It is these ‘shadows’ I try to capture in the only way I know how. Through my photographs.