“…workers in song” Leonard Cohen

 

I started this blog over and over. Can’t really sum this up or begin. To an artist so human, we have your material and love forever

in classy dark suits

to the deep dark voice

always inspiring

our soulful march


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

RINA BANERJEE

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  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.


BIRD’S EYE VIEW- birds in fashion

BIRD’S EYE VIEW

 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_spring_2011

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.

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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.

00000000.-filleoiseau2

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.

 

yiqing-yin-couture-fall2012-04

yiqing-yin-couture-fall2012-04

Clothing that circulates and expands into web and trap.

tumblr_nngt3zDx7s1qc8zhlo2_400

Alexander McQueen

Self-destruction

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Anglomania at the Met- John Galliano

Birds that take us into mourning

 

Alexander-McQueen

Alexander McQueen- Birds of Paradise

Feathers that keep us protected, cool and detached.

7._Dress_of_dyed_ostrich_feathers_and_hand-painted_microscopic_slides_Voss_SS_2001._Model_Erin_OConnor

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.

 


In search for a KING

 IN SEARCH FOR A KING

Buddha in red scarf

Reclining Chinese Buddha- amused by what he sees, likes to be seen in a decorative way, takes care of himself

 

“Begin at the beginning,” the King said, very gravely, “and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland

‘In Search for a King’ is my effort to create a healthy perspective about male identity. I am not interested in sharing about godly muscles and outwardly handsome fellas like the Greek ideal. I am actually more curious about how the pressures of social norms influence and direct the male psyche negatively which could be traced back to Greek’s bent on perfection. Equally true for women of course. There is a difference between ‘the status quo cultural/social male expectation’,  Robert Bly’s ‘Iron John’ and every other male composite in between. This issue is no doubt complex during the history of the earth. When we look at the positive and negative effects of the Industrial Revolution, capitalism, patriarchal structures, binary thinking we can get a glimpse about the cultural evolution of human identity. I am obviously not a radical feminist from the turn of the 20th or from the 50’s but I am deeply concerned as a mom to an 11 year old son, as a sibling to several brothers and as a wife to my husband and dear partner that we respect our gender differences because ultimately gender doesn’t matter, our differences do, and diversity is the way. So why bother than in search for a KING?

I have an art installation coming up in late autumn this year, a narrative about a KING ( the male authority in us) surrendering to larger forces than himself, and while he thinks he is descending into an unstoppable ‘hell’ he realizes this journey is a beautiful release and by this he gains every ‘jewel’ he ever wanted. It is a portrayal of  ‘humility’ as a sublime act, a royal transgression that is so un-stately for his kind yet absolutely necessary for social and environmental transformation. Yep, kinda dramatic.

Aside from working out logistics of budget, deadlines and managing assistants for this project I am in the throes of conceptual and material research.

For one, most often kings are presented standing or sitting, dressed in exquisite and cumbersome attire while exuding a strong sense of self, seriousness and power. Google portraiture of a king and you might find it amusing-

King portraiture

Louis XVI, King  of France and Navarre by Antoine-Francois Callet (1754-93)

Grand, self-assured, he’s got it going on.

 Secondly, what of a king reclining and showing off their garments and status? Thirdly, was Gandhi not a King so to speak?

My investigation in this post is to hunt for other possibilities of ‘being’ in my story of a king. So I am looking at reclining Buddha statuary and funerary art as a start.

Colossal size immediately triggers awe. To follow are profound images from the exotic Far East.reclining buddha ruins

Above we see a relic of a reclining 42 meter Buddha at Wat Lokaya Sutha  in Ayuthaya, Thailand aka ‘The Temple of the Earth’. This temple was destroyed when the Burmese took over the city of Ayutthaya in 1767. The significance behind reclining buddha statues is that this depiction of buddha in serene calm shows detachment from habitual cyclical desire. They are often portrayals of the attainment of Enlightenment just before death.

sarcophagus figures

Etruscan sarcophagus with reclining couple.

Early Etruscan Sarcophagus with reclining couple, from the Banditaccia necropolis, Cerveteri, Italy, ca. 520 BCE.  Painted terracotta, 3′ 9 1/2″ X 6′  7″.  Museo Nazionale di Villa Giulia, Rome. Love this ! what a fantastic portrayal of human life animated while fully aware of our inevitable death. How do you read this piece?

water buddha

Reclining buddha in water-Luang Prabang-

 My thought is this reclining Buddha is seen here in a flood. The placement of the hand supporting the head indicates his passing. So peaceful, so gracious, so beautiful.

 Buddha Enlightenment

Reclining Buddha Head- Luang Prabang

But alas the search for a king must continue. Any direction will do…

“Curiouser and curiouser!”
― Lewis CarrollAlice in Wonderland