Astres Noirs: Sarker Protick’s New Book

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Both Sarker Protick and Katrin Koenning in Astres Noirs, published by Chose Commune imaginatively play with light the through their smartphones, taking us, delightfully, well beyond the limits of the everyday camera-phone digital aesthetic or the daily snap enhanced by film simulation filter settings. It was through posts on their respective Instagram feeds that the book’s editors, Cécile Poimboeuf-Koizumi and VasanthaYogananthan saw a potential dialogue emerging. It was clear that both artists were interested in the creative possibilities of transcending reality and so the editors sought to craft a publication that might begin to mimic the magic of the backlit screen. Completely captivated by the photographic possibilities of light, both artists come at the medium with a desire to seek the extraordinary in order to access invisible states of consciousness. Protick’s interest in photography, sparked after breaking his mobile phone camera lens, pointing it at the sun, perhaps signals a new generation of image makers not fixated on any decisive moment. His work naturally imbues a spirituality that, I think, is often lost on western audiences. In contrast, the experience of Koenning’s migration from Germany to Melbourne in Australia has gifted her an impulse to seek emotional resonance in her surroundings. Her search for connections to place is about engaging with the world through the love it inspires in her mind. The essence of both their work, therefore, appears to be rooted in the personal and meditative relationship they have with metaphysical thought and less with rigid notions of representing a photographic reality. Astres Noirs gives us an insight into their supernatural vision through these fairly eclectic astral projections.

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Initially, assuming their work would be near impossible to reproduce in print, it wasn’t until I sat in my sunlit office that I came to fully appreciate the book. As I thumbed through its black pages, the light delicately reflected the silver ink of the images and I began to feel the enchantment these images truly hold yet again. Having been a follower of both Koenning and Protick for some time on Instagram, often being mesmerised by their images and regularly dumbfounded at how they might have been created, I was beautifully reminded of the very natural affinity both artists have towards a higher state of consciousness.

By Sunil Shah

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