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.


CINDY SHERMAN MASTERS EMPATHY

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CINDY SHERMAN

ARTIST CINDY SHERMAN MASTERS EMPATHY

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.

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CINDY SHERMAN

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.

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CINDY SHERMAN

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.

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CINDY SHERMAN

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.

 

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CINDY SHERMAN

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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