End of Summer Wrap-up
Freer and Sackler Galleries “Perspectives: Rina Banerjee” Through June 8, 2014 The Sackler Gallery will feature the work of Rina Banerjee (b. 1963), an Indian born artist working out of New York City, who draws on her background as a scientist and her experience as an immigrant. Her richly textured works complicate the role of objects as representations of cultures and invite viewers to share her fascination in materials, both personally and as it relates to world histories. By juxtaposing organic and plastic objects—such as combining ornate textiles and animal forms with tourist souvenirs—she concocts fairy-tale worlds that are both enticing and subtly menacing.
Combining elements of collage, pop art and contemporary installation work with a keen sense for the memory effects that textures can impart, Banerjee’s vision has an explorative theatricality about it, as well as a sort of twisted, gothic whimsy. It is like the excavation of conflagrated multiculturalism, and it is a wonder to behold.
Touching on themes of migration and transformation, the installation’s lengthy title likewise conveys the sense of a long journey: “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.”
The Hirshhorn “Peter Coffin: Here and There” Through Oct. 6 Throughout his career, Peter Coffin (b. 1972); lives and works in New York) has created an unpredictable and eclectic array of works, including many that express a sense of joy and sometimes, humor. Born in Berkeley, Calif., the New York-based artist’s practice includes photography, assemblage, performance, time-based media, installations, sound art, and sculpture in many forms, often drawing inspiration from odd facts or obscure theories. To emphasize the artist’s chameleon-like virtuosity, the works in the exhibition, rather than being concentrated within one exhibition area, are installed in spaces around the Museum. Nature, science, pseudo-science, psychological displacement, urban happenstance, and “what if” brainstorms are among the myriad departure points for his pieces, but what is constant is the undercurrent of his unique, exuberant subversiveness.
The Textile Museum “Out of Southeast Asia: Art That Sustains” Through Oct. 13 Southeast Asian textiles first served as markers of ethnic identity, distinguishing neighboring communities by pattern, color and technique. Now, commercial production challenges these practices, yet the artistic wealth of these several hundred groups continues to inspire artists from around the world. “Out of Southeast Asia: Art That Sustains” explores the intersection of these rich traditions and their interpretation within contemporary art and design.
Historical textile artworks from the Textile Museum’s magnificent Southeast Asian collections—including batiks from Indonesia and brocades and ikats from Laos—will be displayed alongside the work of four contemporary textile artists and designers: batik artists Nia Fliam, Agus Ismoyo, and Vernal Bogren Swift, and weaver Carol Cassidy. All of their works originate in Southeast Asian concepts, realized in certain design elements, technical details, and philosophical underpinnings. “Out of Southeast Asia” demonstrates how contemporary artists are preserving the traditional arts even as they interpret them in new and innovative ways.
As the Textile Museum prepares to move to its new location, “Out of Southeast Asia” provides a fitting visual link between the past, present and future while demonstrating the continued relevance of traditional textiles.