Rina Banerjee. Incoherent but Saying Something

Time-lapse video of Rina Banerjee installing A World Lost: after the original island, single land mass fractured, after populations migrated, after pollution revealed itself and as cultural locations once separated merged, after the splitting of Adam and Eve, Shiva and Shakti, of race black and white, of culture East and West, after animals diminished, after the seas’ corals did exterminate, after this and at last imagine all water evaporated . . . this after Columbus found it we lost it imagine this (2013) at the Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, July 13, 2013–June 8, 2014. Video by Hutomo Wicaksono.

Rina Banerjee’s titles rebel against the English language and its global dominance. Though written in English, they are long and poetic with eccentric spellings—as the artist explained, “an attempt to massage it to speak for a vast number of people who use it sparingly, awkwardly, creatively under the pressure of globalization, colonization, and commercialization of English culture.”1 Banerjee’s enigmatic and dramatic titles are essential elements of her work, conceived after the object’s completion. Like the materials in her sculptures, words unite and collide beautifully and awkwardly; they evoke harmonies and contradictions and capture a sense of global cultural hybridity.

  1. Jodi Throckmorton, “Make Me a Summary of the World,” in Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World (Philadelphia: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and San José, CA: San José Museum of Art, 2018), 21. ↩︎