Shunyo Raja (Kings of a Bereft Land)

The Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna Delta, comprising Bangladesh and West Bengal (India) is the world's largest delta. Rising sea levels and swelling rivers have submerged the delta’s Sundarbans islands. Several more risk disappearance. Inundations and storm surges increase salinity, threatening mangroves, soil, crops, and the availability of freshwater fish species – thus depriving families of food, homes and livelihoods. As the mangrove cover diminishes, the major cities of Kolkata and Dhaka lose a vital protective biological shield against cyclones and tsunamis.

Shunyo Raja uses environmental portraits and expansive landscape images to depict the people and vistas of this brutal and ever-changing world. The title derives from the words of an environmental refugee, who told Arko Datto: “Bereft of our land and livelihood, we are all but ‘shunyo rajas’ – ‘kings of a bereft land’ – in this erstwhile land of plenty.”

  • Chapter I: Kings of a Bereft Land
  • Chapter II: Where Do We Go When the Final Wave Hits
  • Chapter III: Terra Mutata

Arko Datto

Arko Datto is a visual artist and curator based in Kolkata. His work questions what it means to be a photographer in the digital age. At the same time, he reflects critically on contemporary existential dilemmas including forced migration, techno-fascism, surveillance in the digital panopticon and rising sea levels. His work has been exhibited throughout Europe and Asia and has appeared in international periodicals. He is part of the curatorial team for the 3rd Chennai Photo Biennale.