Gallery Wendi Norris presents Apparitions, an exhibition of recent work by Ranu Mukherjee including an installation of textile prints, ink paintings and collage on paper and a new hybrid film. The works and their installation articulate relationships between the compressed spaces of the body, stage and picture plane. Operating as a conduit between the liminal and the social, these ‘Apparitions’ are reflections of multiple and simultaneous senses of time travel, catastrophe, fragility, desire and identification with the natural world.
Mukherjee draws on Mark Baron and Elise Boisante’s collection of popular Indian mythological images from the 19th century, translating and recasting their elements, abstracting and remixing them using media images that currently seem to have mythic power, including protesters, fashion models and the sun.
A central work in the exhibition based on an 1883 Kali picture from the Calcutta Art Studio, ‘Desert Bloom (protesters, models, service dogs)’ holds side by side the competing intensities of an impending ecological shift and recent instances of human violence. Kali is a shadow across a post 911 US desert where the presence of current activist, corporate and military entities appear uncanny and simultaneous in a transitional aftermath.
Three large-scale pictures on paper, in ink and collage, also consider the landscape both as a stage recomposed from fragments and as an energetic body. As with Mukherjee’s previous series ‘what color is the sacred’, the images contain gaps;’ incomplete’ areas that open up opportunities for viewers projection. The flat condensed picture-planes are composed by moving between the hand, the lens and the digital. Their creolized nature is aligned with anthropologist and art historian, Christopher Pinney’s notion of the xeno-real –‘the form of colonially authorized realism that circulates outside its frame of origination’.
The works here are inspired by speculative fictions capacity and similarly express an intensely visceral relationship to the external, urban experience and the energetic trade between matter and culture.