RINA BANERJEE – A Red Taj, a hag, a tortoise and the devouring human


Our hunger for the light; the colorful, the sacred and the inexplicable comes with the tethered inescapable agent of a dark absence; where we weather with loss, the profane and a greedy curiosity. A curiosity that nails a kind of truth to the human mirror; of countless illusions tormenting us with constant frequency upon our psyche daily. While we like to think we can navigate our ‘desires’ that come from an unconscious greedy curiosity, we more often migrate between one deceptive appearance or impression to the next. Humans aren’t that complicated. We devour at rapid rates which ironically begets ‘more’ into the world and our box of pleasures never empty.  To sacrifice any of our sensorial world would surely send us to a symbolic grave.

When I study the work of Rina Banerjee I admire her display of this human predicament. We are rich and textured, specific and peculiar and really good at making life up. The work of our imaginations is elemental and necessary, after all humans wouldn’t survive without sharing a story or two. For this and to the artist I am forever grateful.

The world of Banerjee is both personal and cosmic. She offers a fluctuating, dynamic universe that makes disgust look enticing, beauty to look ugly, the intricate look impossible. There is a kind of hypnosis that overwhelms me. This is true of our culture; the superfluous is intoxicating to the point of where we become dulled, stuck and fruitless. However, when I study how she relates and combines with materials I know that if any part of her work came undone, Shiva would burn me to ashes! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva The coordinating and arranging, the aligning and the assembling of materials is like she is uniting all the differences of the world together. Very refreshing.



Assemblage by Rina Banerjee

‘Can you believe the beast in her beauty was born out of a vilified attack on her mother’s moment when she and she a shared sexuality,’ 2009 http://www.aaa-a.org/programs/presentation-by-rina-banerjee/

“Yes, and I think it is really important for me to share the storm of the world – when you can’t really ‘know’ any place, all the while being bombarded by everything that is out there. There is a sucking, pushing, throwing and falling in the process. It is both dangerous and exciting that I definitely like to bring to my work.”http://www.aaa-a.org/programs/presentation-by-rina-banerjee/

Three dimensional compositions come with harmonizing around the diagonal axis of contrasting colors and materials. Ropes, feathers, lightbulbs, tusks, synthetics, dolls, toys convene and stare at us and not for no apparent reason. This is the material world humans have created to satisfy our never-ending needs of pleasure and survival. And, this is ART. The artificial and the natural. We aren’t looking at these materials from the context they come from, our minds have already understood those implied associations. She offers another ‘whole’ fairytale world, a kind of myth-making about our current predicament of living on this planet.

“Difference must leave its cave and cease to be monster, not a level thorny and pointed pierce to emasculate the persistence of powerful middle -fat and feathery finds fault with it neck, arm and ankle” 2013, 2 x 3 x 1.3' Media: feather fans ,light bulbs, glass tiger’s eye, feather trim, steel, plastic basket, glass beads, thread, ruffle trim, acrylic horm, ceramic horn http://rinabanerjee.com/artwork/3572277_Difference_must_leave_its_cave_and.html

“Difference must leave its cave and cease to be monster, not a level thorny and pointed pierce to emasculate the persistence of powerful middle -fat and feathery finds fault with it neck, arm and ankle” 2013, 2 x 3 x 1.3′ Media: feather fans ,light bulbs, glass tiger’s eye, feather trim, steel, plastic basket, glass beads, thread, ruffle trim, acrylic horm, ceramic horn http://rinabanerjee.com/artwork/3572277_Difference_must_leave_its_cave_and.html

 I love knowing the Taj Mahal is white marble and pure in India and must remain so forever, but for some reason sensing it in cherry red hits the inferno of desire, temptation and abandonment.
Take me, take me, take me to the Palace of Love, 2003, http://www.hosfeltgallery.com/index.php?p=artists&a=Rina%20Banerje

Take me, take me, take me to the Palace of Love, 2003, http://www.hosfeltgallery.com/index.php?p=artists&a=Rina%20Banerje

Often her figures and assemblage sculptures have eyes and perhaps a face and I think this is important. To a Minimalist in the history of art https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=minimalism&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 it is overkill but its effect reminds us that perhaps there is an inseparable animating force both terrifying and nurturing that migrates in materials, nature and human life. A force that reflects our inner world, a force to be sensed and perceived along with a larger all encompassing impersonal perspective. The eyes are nuanced with character, a friendly reminder of ourselves.

Lotions and potions like rivers where in quick motion, as well as essential oils and culture’s notions, where  these cultures would once be locked in harbor or empires court now took ride on the global, opened themselves up to mysterious and foreign incantations (2010), mixed media. Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris/Brussels.

With the work of Rina Banerjee there are no exceptions, nothing is excluded between the awkward and hip, mad and gay, strange and status quo, low-fi and luxurious, etc discerning a place for ourselves is perhaps the journey.

Rina Banerjee. She was now in western style dress covered in part of Empires’ ruffle and red dress, had a foreign and peculiar race, a Ganesha who had lost her head, was thrown across sea until herself shipwrecked. A native of Bangladesh lost foot to root in Videsh, followed her mother full stop on forehead, trapped tongue of horn and grew ram-like under stress, 2011; cowrie shells, rooster feather, gourds, acrylic horns, ceramic balls, plastic netting, amber glass vials, violet glass bulbs, false glass doe eyeballs, silk and synthetic Lanvin ruffled red dress; 73 x 65 in. dia. (185.4 x 165.1 cm). Copyright Rina Banerjee. Image courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

I like to think that the purpose of art is no different than an invitation to an exquisite ball, rise to the occasion and mingle in the fantasy. You never know who you will run into. Dark or light that is super-natural.





Actress? Impersonator? Multiple Personality? Story-Teller?  Cindy Sherman grew up in the 70’s and is one of my favorites from The Pictures Generation.  She is an artist whose subject is herself portrayed as a variety of people from fairy tales, to clowns, to high society women, to historical figures, to feminine stereotypes, to men and more. While these images are photographs of herself, she is the photographer who takes them. She builds the characters through dress and becomes them in a single photograph. She takes thousands of photos before she finds the right one that says it all.



Empathy refers to the capacity of understanding, perceiving and/or feeling another from their frame of reference. Cindy Sherman isn’t living these characters she personifies in these portraits, but she is imagining a relationship of herself and them in what it must be like. This is an act of empathy that comes with story-telling. The viewer too empathizes with these characters. Is it like  ‘dress up’ at home while alone with the TV? Yes and deeper. She gives these characters a chance in their ‘moment’ to live on, to be seen as human, to see ourselves in them and our differences from them. She has admitted to feeling  compassion for these characters and when you see them here you begin to understand why. It is like watching a tragedy and a comedy at the same time.

Let’s step out of this universe for a sec…don’t humans try and try after endless defeat after defeat? Living is a constant heroic act, is it not?. How we carry our trials and tribulations comes through in the way we dress and prep ourselves for the next new day. The breasts drop, the face gets tucked and mulled by make-up, the hair gets bleached young and perfected according to cultural norms of ‘beauty’. We work hard on ourselves despite the enemy of time. Living a long life of careful grooming or a fast, robust and furious one is still a tremendous achievement.



Back to reality.

Her work is mostly untitled because she wants the viewer to create their own narratives of these individuals. This feels like a Baroque oil portrait of a woman distraught by something that has just happened. We don’t know what happened but we can invent a story from the exposed clues of her body, her beautiful lace on the shoulders, the secrecy of the closed off curtain, she is half naked, was she desired or not treated right?… She is broken, vulnerable and appears to not know what to do next. I feel sorry for her. As a feminist artist Sherman hits the nail on the head with this one. She probes tragic realities that some women face all the time.



Rock on, love it, this woman is powerful, she rules. I know those shorts, the hair, make-up, the tattoo, the nails and rings, the perked lips, the way she sits, right? I bet she doesn’t have much to call her own, but her pride is there, she knows how to survive.

Despite the criticism around her work as ‘mockery’ of typing people, to place herself as these subjects isn’t a form of mockery at all.  It is as much about Cindy Sherman as those she portrays. She is a master of transformation, of sharing the world of people through trickery and artifice. The number of wigs, noses nails and eyes not to mention clothes and accessories stored in her studio is intriguing in itself. If you get a chance watch the video below and see more.

What makes her work profound for me is the fact that I feel I have seen or know these people somehow before, even though I obviously haven’t met them in real life. Do you? a little surreal, a deja vu perhaps… This makes sense to have seen these characters before because many of us grew up inundated with media and saw all walks of life through TV, film, the news… We travel and see this variety, we live in neighborhoods with other people who are different from and similar to us, we read about human cultures in books, we see them at the beach, strip bars, dance clubs, we walk our city streets and live next to the wild and crazy person up the road, or we know someone who knows someone who introduced us to someone who looks like this etc. It is easy to recognize ourselves but it is hard to empathize with those who are different from us. Our inner judge is a strong magistrate.




These characters are utterances of human culture regardless of era. They are iconic. We grow up with each other and ‘know’ people who could be close to a century older than us. For Cindy Sherman how the history of human life has been presented is of equal value to current mass-media representations of human culture, she researches her sources from everywhere.

Behind the furs, and silks isn’t a cool critic that manufactures identity, she sees and feels the human in everyone.

CINDY SHERMAN ON ART 21 roughly 25 mins

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Film Costumes to never forget

Period costume of Queens

Period Costume ‘Elizabeth’- Cate Blanchett


Cate Blanchett- gorgeous yellow

Fashion is often set by the costume designers in the film industry which influences a culture’s style.  Sometimes ‘Film’ hires fashion designers like Jean Paul Gautier. Here is a list of extraordinary styles that don’t fit current fashion but at the time they were made bear iconic status.

The following is worth the watch, do you agree with the pickings?

C’mon The Wizard of Oz? Really? Don’t think so people!

What’s your favorite of all time costume in film?

I might have to go with ‘to die for’ Brando’s sweaty tee…

Artist: Jordon Wolfson


 This is mesmerizing, creepy, both male and female, looks at you and knows you are looking back. A little too real. Watch the whole thing, it is unforgettable.


Do you find it attractive in a dark kind of way? Do you have a voyeur in you? What secrets does it share with you?



Natural hair


Which of these hairdos would suit you?

We all have a dialogue with our hair. Every morning we wake up and have to deal, short hair has its problems as does long. ‘No hair’ has its pros and cons as well. So we either fight its condition at the hour, or make concessions of various kinds. We often wake up with easy solutions of products and accessories or we put a hat on or make a hair appointment, or henna our hair if the crisis is on a weekend or like I often do just ‘surrender’… Now I am not a hairdresser but I have collected a few options for you try and bear with me because you have to expand and dig a little deeper. It is time to get creative and really explore the wonderful possibilities.

hair confusion


What I love about these hairdo’s is that none of them feel like a ‘costume’ or just physical extensions which they could very well be.  I see them more like extensions of the self. ‘Coral’ is feeling particular. Zany detail, finery of the Rococo, and technical exuberance is what the above option can provide.  You could wear ‘Coral’ fancy in couture or flow ordinary in a pair of jeans, these days that ‘in between’ fusion is quite popular.

hair extension

Twisted Sister

If you are at the computer all day ‘Twisted Sister’ might be your best bet. Hair is out of the way, full facial attention towards the screen, get the job done, no distractions, hair is light and airborne, we are talking  pure focus potential. You might start to grow Spak ears and that too can work for you, like they show us in the mags the more distinctive you look the more valuable you become.

hair armor


Sorry for the poor image quality)

This hair is like “wrap me in a cocoon after a skin makeover”, love it. Perfect for Lady Gaga. Maybe the Spa can do this for you, a little suggestion might be in order, it is entirely possible this could don a new age of therapy.


royal hair


Ok ROYAL is me. I could travel the world wearing this, I would feel like a star. Even though my heart is with ROOT- the first hairdo and I am soooo natural, I think this one would put me in a total state of calm and equanimity. Right? you can’t go dancing with this hair, one would have to walk up straight and slowly move through the day, all the drama in your head is non-existent, a perfect state of being.

which animal hair?


Ironically Giraffe would have us in a more casual, don’t mind me, smooth talking mood. Can’t you just picture waiting to cross traffic on 5th and 52nd and Giraffe was there opposite you?  A brunette like everyone else, no spots or blemishes, just the right amount of the artificial and feral you need. Cher could spruce this up more. Now this might be a way to really feel like you ‘belong’ with the masses. NOT! and that might be the relief you need, so think again, having really understated hair might be that foray you are ultimately looking for.

is it there hair


Lastly ‘Cinderella’, oh the poor thing. When the chips are down, love is lost, confusion reigns, god only knows, you can long for that miraculous change, for that wild spell and feeling to come or just do what you can and let it fly…


























BIRD’S EYE VIEW- birds in fashion


 Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW, photos by Don Ashby/Style.com

Alexander McQueen Fall 2006 RTW, photos by Don Ashby/Style.com

Birds live all over the world, and have been around for millions of years. We go birding, pick up on their songs, they meet us somewhere on a hike, they pop by our house and hang out in our trees, they nest like us, live near or on the water, some hunt, dive, some feed on seeds, nectar, meat or fish. They soar, hide, lurk in the depths we most fear. Their razor sharp eyesight and sonar intelligence make them a remarkable part of the animal kingdom on this earth. And while we continue to learn about the diversity of species and their adaptive systems what impresses me most of all is that they know the skies like no other animal, or human. They are our link to a larger universe dark or bright.


Alexander McQueen

Let’s take flight for a sec…

In terms of adaptive systems, the owl’s feathering allows them to camouflage in their environments for catching prey. In image of the dress of owl feathers, the models braided hair and light skin tones would camouflage similarly against the bark of trees. ‘Dress’ acts an intermediary between human and animal.

So why am I connecting fashion with birds? Because fashion reflects human desires, and the longing for a meaningful identity. Some of us turn to religion for example to meet a larger truth of that meaning we so desperately crave, while some turn to Nature for similar understanding and connection to a larger whole of who we are. To my mind birds by nature have a ‘birds eye view’ and fly around that ‘whole’ we seek. They mediate between earth and the unknown of the sky. Fashion designers and artists alike think deeply and act on that connectivity humans need for individual security. The imagery I have chosen to share here is visibly about ‘dress’  but dress that connects us to something larger than ourselves.

Owl illustration

Extinct birds wearing fashions from the year they went extinct- Laughing Owl, 1914, Brian Williams

I am not a fan of anthropomorphism because humans often fail to see animals as they are, we imbue them with aspects of ourselves rather than seeing the animal kingdom composed of distinct species of equal valuable to us. Sometimes we don’t get the message of atrocities like ‘extinction’ unless we imagine being in the same shoes as the defeated like in this illustration above. Is extinction a natural cause in evolution? The image is wonderfully ambiguous with multiple meanings. Is the owl living in our apparel or are we sporting an owl ‘head’ a marker of acute awareness?  Perhaps ‘Empathy gap’ between bird and human might be another way to put it, but the intention I think is to connect humans to a palpable loss of freedom and the constraints of living. The paradox between freedom (the symbolic nature of a bird ) and order (wearing a suit) is indeed standing proudly here.  Oh, too often human needs impose order of many kinds dictating our precedence over the impressive beauty such as the species of ‘Laughing Owl’ and that which surrounds us.

Bird's Eye View

Bizarre Bird- fashion editorial. The dead has plumage

For fashion designers the clothes carry the narrative, the story is in the clothes, and could go something like this: A dark princess went out hunting one day and comes face to face with the death of a bird. “Is she equipped?” and “what would you do in the same scenario?”. “Would its death have any impact on you? how so?”

owl headwear

owl taxidermy

This image is priceless. Taxidermy on the head. Me thinks she is hooting.


The photo above pertains to some of my research as art director for an OWLMAN design I am creating for a movie called Joan in Owl Land. The film is directed by Martin Castaneda https://www.facebook.com/martincastanedayabar?fref=ts with cinematographer Carlos Diaz www.crd.carbonmade.net. Feathers, long black hairy furs, dark leathers, and barks are some of my materials to inspire me.


Woman in Photography- unknown photographer

Birds connect us to the heavens, however the following designs show a subtler current in Nature and one that revolves around human’s affliction with our psychological underworld. Our feathered friends act as messengers between our unconscious and conscious selves. Nature and humans are inextricably linked.




Clothing that circulates and expands into web and trap.


Alexander McQueen



Anglomania at the Met- John Galliano

Birds that take us into mourning



Alexander McQueen- Birds of Paradise

Feathers that keep us protected, cool and detached.


Alexander McQueen – Savage Beauty

And feathers that make us bleed in our wounds.

To an ancient Chinese proverb:

          A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.


Mischief with Chris Burden


Chris Burden has a diverse range of art that taps into architecture, vintage collecting, TV commercials, extreme performances to name a few and as an artistic and influential figure he won’t be swinging by again in my lifetime. So I thought I would honor him here, as he passed recently. His thinking around boundaries of what he could and couldn’t do, his poetic engineering strategies in building structures and his full immersion into his art that perhaps came from his early performances in the 70’s, some of which you can see here http://www.vulture.com/2015/05/best-of-chris-burden-on-youtube.html  are remarkable as much as they were bizarre. He was humble, funny and he confirms for me that an artist has the resources to  ‘make’ from any stage in their careers. Below is a video that reveals his thinking behind the commercials he made. What I love about him is his intuitive honesty about himself as an artist and how a career that marries idea and living turns into a satisfying reality.

He will be an inspiration for so many of us in our years to come!



Street Performer Statue

Street Performer Statue

Street Magic

Dolly Mix

Dolly Mix

 Street fashion as performance

Elena Perminova

Elena Perminova

Street fashion as… the beautiful shawl (wear yours this summer ladies)

 Os Gêmeos GRAFFITI, Dewey Square, Boston, 2010

Os Gêmeos GRAFFITI, Dewey Square, Boston, 2010

street art as play and feeling

Brazilian graffiti artists

OSGEMEOS- twin brothers

…as…street culture that kinda feels like one can get squeezed out by people, and compressed into places and spaces never considered before (like the concrete silos on Granville Island in Vancouver)

London faces

London faces

 and street theater releasing the emotional intensity of living.

Street life heals the spirit. Thank god we can get wonderfully crazy.



WHAT IS A DRESS?  must it surprise? must it make you confident? must it re-configure the mundane? Rei Kawakubo knows.



When you think you know what a dress is, Rei Kawakubo and her brand Commes des Garçons makes you re-think about dresses that are “beautiful”, “kool”, “interesting”, and “weird” and in a twisted wonderful way she is all of that ‘personified’…


Love love love her work. Totally unexpected, she tears down typical garment construction.

White dresses you have never seen before

White dresses you might not have known were invented



I would say a dress when interpreting Kawakubo is experimental, refreshing, abstract, colorful, and an artificial independent world. Dresses aren’t about female sexuality or pleasing the desires of your man.


The body isn’t important. Ok it is for health reasons, but the chic of Commes des Garçons is also healthy. Never mind how young or old we look, let’s make sure we are draped, sculpted by garments and perceived as a walking canvas of self-expression. She reminds us we are ideas not cultural stereotypes, nor do we have to dress like our biological sex or gender.

What is a dress?

Color, risk and feeling. I would like to step into that, and you?