Decoding Artist Rina Banerjee's Dark Message In The World As Burnt Fruit

Underneath its association with Indian mythology, this installation artwork by Rina Banerjee offers a scathing critique of imperialism and highlights its many perils

Saptak Choudhury Updated: Sep 14, 2020 21:28:37 IST
Decoding Artist Rina Banerjee's Dark Message In The World As Burnt Fruit The World as Burnt Fruit by Rina Banerjee, fans, feathers, cowrie shells, resin, alligator skull, globe, glass vials, light bulbs, gourds, steel wire and Japanese mosquito nets, 2009 (Photo courtesy Kiran Nadar Museum of Art)

It is difficult to make sense of Rina Banerjee’s works solely by what they are called. Many have long, wordy titles as is the case with this installation piece called The world as burnt fruit—When empires feuded for populations and plantations, buried in colonial and ancient currency a Gharial appeared from an inky melon—hot with blossom sprang forth to swallow the world not yet whole as burnt fruit. The work uses many materials for what Banerjee calls the “maximum experience”.

The artwork hides a dark message beneath its surface—the resin-made skeleton, jutting from the orb lined with cowrie shells, is that of a gharial; the lump it holds in its mouth represents the world. An attentive viewer may spot the link with Indian mythology—the association of the gharial with Ganga. It also draws attention to the endangered nature of this species in India and Myanmar—brought about by the damaging effects of imperialism.

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