For Human Traffic, Rina Banerjee has specifically produced a series of artworks (sculptures, wooden panels, large format drawings) illustrating her reflections on the theme of movement, which she interprets in a positive (journeys that generate a great cultural diversity and richness) as well as a more abrupt way, with the forced physical circulation of bodies due to war, terrorism and poverty, thereby implicating migrations of every kind. Hence colonisation, the uprooting of populations and even human trafficking itself are dealt with in this exhibition, in complex, colourful and powerful forms, into which everyone can delve and find meaning, illustrated by metaphorical titles written like poems.
Starting from the premise that movement is a phenomenon particularly specific to our recent era, carried along by the influx of technologies and the multiplicity of networks, but also accrued by the consumerist power of Western countries over those of the East, Rina Banerjee explores head on in her artworks these different forms of circulation. Thus the sculpture Make me a summary of the world, she was his guide and had travelled on camel, rhino, elephant and kangaroo, dedicated to dried plants, glass houses - for medical study, vegetable sexuality, self-pollination, fertilization her reach pierced the woods country by country can itself epitomise this theme. Here it is a question, through a proliferation of materials and forms (pointed horns ready to pierce, protective umbrellas, a plastic doll’s head, wooden rhinoceros, shells, twisted branches, etc.), of multiple displacements between different continents, leaving a trace in its wake like a pollination of the air.
In a more sombre way, the artist evokes traumatic situations such as Soldier: overseas and out of place his species seeded dead to grow as common place, bore beautiful flowers of wound, carnage discovered a resin sticky like sweat. He had courage and loyalty when everyone wept and came home emptied while we slept, which offers the image of a man struggling for his identity, carry dead weights, a red skull overhanging his swollen body. For Banerjee, the various objects employed are like orphans and her role as an artist is hence to find a ‘manufactured’ family for them.
For this exhibition, Rina Banerjee has indeed taken an interest in the mobility of bodies, but under the guise of a fervent criticism of their commoditisation. Individuality is undermined several times, slavery is singled out, children and women are the first to be persecuted, kidnapped, used as a medium of exchange, driven to crime: Petty crime, shame on her mind. Hence in the large drawing Human Traffic, a mother who wants to be a protector is surrounded by embryos of deformed bodies, left to fend for themselves in an ocean of colour. ‘I play with abrupt changes of scale in my drawings and sculptures. I am attracted to delicate, fragile and esoteric details awkwardly placed in the artwork, which invite us to head in new directions and which take us on a journey.’ The invitation to a journey is tempting, even if it sometimes insinuates violence and brutality. Her world is like a series of inevitable cultural decisions where only the human being, as a living animal, is capable of adapting.
Denouncing the impact of capitalism on our relationships with the universe and with others, Banerjee regrets that we live in a world of racial, cultural and economic segregation and discrimination. ‘My eye is tired of always looking at culture through a single prism.’ The richness of her compositions, the dazzling intensity of her colours, the multiplicity of sensations that she kindles in us when seeing her artworks provide a way out of all confinement and, this time, favour in turn an enriching movement towards the other and to an elsewhere.
This exhibition will be the occasion for the publication of a monograph published by Dilecta, with texts by Courtney J. Martin, Wangechi Mutu and Cédric Vincent.