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Yankee Remix, Remix
Artists Take on New England
July 23 - September 4, 2004
Reception: Friday, July 23, 7 - 9 pm
Curator's Talk: Saturday, July 24 @ Noon
(gallery closed August 21 - 28)

Rina Banerjee

Born in Calcutta in 1963. Lives in Bennington, Vermont and Brooklyn.
Contagious Spaces, Preserving Pinkeye (2003)

Welded steel, plastics, light fixtures, transparencies
Commissioned by MASS MoCA and SPNEA for Yankee Remix

The story Banerjee tells in this sprawling installation begins with its most unassuming part: a group of three optical sculptures, resting low on the floor. In these delicate optical sculptures, Banerjee includes excerpts from letters that were sent from Calcutta by a young Boston Brahmin named Ogden Codman to his fiancée back in Boston during the late 1850s. The letters are paired with photographs from an album of “Calcutta types” that Codman bought during his long tourist sojourn there. Banerjee relished the opportunity to gain insight into Codman’s way of thinking about Calcutta, which she found hilarious, threatening, and bizarre by turns. The “rose-colored glasses” that Codman seemed to wear sent her on a riff about the Western romanticization of India during Victorian times, when there were fads for paisley shawls, Indian furniture, and decorative items. This romance was the alternate face of colonialism.

( Text spirals from L to R)
Calcutta Oct. 25th 1858
I hope to kill a tiger or some other beast before having to depart, but I may not get a chance as a large party have arrived in the city from a hunt and I shall find it hard to get any companions.
- Ogden Codman


Calcutta Nov. 15th 1858
I went to a ball with native princes (some of them black as the ace of spades) blazing with rubies and diamonds and all sorts of precious stones on their hats or rather on their breasts and in their ears, in fact wherever they could put them; and with the most magnificent Cashmere shawls around their waists or over their shoulders.
- Ogden Codman


Calcutta Nov. 15th 1858
The women did not amount to much and there was only one pretty one there. Of course there were no native women there as those of the higher classes are never supposed to be seen in public.
- Ogden Codman

 

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