June 27, 2019

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World @ San José Museum of Art, California

Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World
San José Museum of Art, California
Through October 6, 2019

The San José Museum of Art, California (SJMA) presents Rina Banerjee: Make Me a Summary of the World, the first mid-career retrospective on the contemporary practice of Rina Banerjee, co-organized with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (PAFA).

Known for her large-scale sculptures and installations made from materials sourced throughout the world, Rina Banerjee’s works investigate the splintered experiences of identity, tradition, and culture, prevalent in diasporic communities.  

Make Me a Summary of the World is accompanied by extensive programming and a full-color, 160-page catalogue co-published by SJMA and PAFA. After the exhibition closes at SJMA it will then embark on a national tour.

Rina Banerjee (born 1963) is one of the most important artists of the post-colonial Indian diaspora living in the United States and her work has been shown most extensively in Europe and South Asia. This exhibition, the first in-depth examination into the artist’s work, will consider Rina Banerjee in both American and global frameworks, specifically in relation to Banerjee’s approach to feminism, globalism, colonialism and the environment.

Susan Sayre Batton, Oshman Executive Director of the San José Museum of Art, said, “We are thrilled to bring Banerjee’s monumental work to the people of Silicon Valley and the West Coast,  reiterating SJMA’s dedication to foster awareness of artists’ broad contributions to society. Banerjee’s art explores globalization, migration, and identity—themes that reflect our community.” 

SJMA curator Lauren Schell Dickens, added: “For twenty years, Rina has been using her work to disrupt conventional notions of identity, delving into the complex territory of cultural fragmentation and self-identification, which makes her an important voice today. We’re particularly excited to be presenting this rich examination of her work in San José, which is home to so many diasporic groups.”

Jodi Throckmorton, Curator of Contemporary Art at PAFA, remarked: “Make Me a Summary of the World marks a defining moment for Rina. As the artist’s first retrospective, it traces her work over twenty years, culminating in sculptures made for the 57th Venice Biennale and 2017 Prospect Triennial in New Orleans—important exhibitions that reflect one of the most exciting periods of recognition in Rina’s career.”

Bringing together several of Rina Banerjee’s monumental installations in conversation with more than two dozen sculptures, as well as a thorough selection of works on paper, Make Me a Summary of the World will transform SJMA into an immersive experience.

Using a variety of gathered materials ranging from African tribal jewelry to colorful feathers, light bulbs, and Murano glass, Rina Banerjee’s sensuous assemblages present themselves simultaneously as familiar and unfamiliar, thriving on tensions between visual cultures and raising questions about exoticism, cultural appropriation, globalization, and feminism. Her works are named with thought-provoking and poetic titles that are works of art in themselves, ranging in length from 50 to 180 words.

Born in Calcutta, India in 1963, Rina Banerjee was raised in the United Kingdom and United States. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Polymer Engineering from Case Western in 1993 and took a job as a polymer research chemist upon graduation. After several years, she left the science profession to pursue her Masters in Fine Arts from Yale University. Rina Banerjee currently divides her time between New York City and Philadelphia.

She has exhibited in San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Tokyo, New Delhi, and notably in a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC in 2013. Her works are also included in many private and public collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art (NY), Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France; Queens Museum (NY); Kiran Nadar Museum, New Delhi, and the Brooklyn Museum (NY).

A full-color catalogue was co-published by SJMA and PAFA. It illuminates the crossover contexts in which Banerjee works and includes a detailed chronology of the artist’s life and work, and essays by co-curators Lauren Schell Dickens (SJMA) and Jodi Throckmorton (PAFA); Rachel Kent, chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; and writer Allie Biswas. $45, available in the SJMA Museum store.

Other Travel Venues
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia (October 27, 2018–March 31, 2019)
Fowler Museum at University of California, Los Angeles (December 8, 2019–May 31, 2020)
Frist Art Museum, Nashville, Tennessee (July 24–October 25, 2020)
Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, North Carolina (February 18–July 11, 2021)

110 South Market Street, San José, California