Bay Area artist creates linkages through time to show the intimacies of history, global capitalism and culture.

The Asian Art Museum hosts Ranu Mukherjee in an ongoing, continually morphing exhibition presented in three parts, each featuring an additional installation of artwork and film.

Ranu Mukherjee, 'Guaiwu 2', 2015, Ink and pigment on paper. Photo: © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Ranu Mukherjee, ‘Guaiwu 2’, 2015, ink and pigment on paper. Photo: © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

The Asian Art Museum in San Francisco is hosting an exhibition titled “Extracted” (6 November 2015 – 14 August 2015) by the artist Ranu Mukherjee who questions and critiques the legacies of the California Gold Rush and its impact on labour, nature and international economic power. Although the exhibition is critical of a historical event, Mukherjee also draws comparisons to the Bay Area’s contemporary economy. The curator of the exhibition, Marc Mayer, Senior Educator of Contemporary Art at the Museum, states that the exhibition links the past to the present:

The exhibition speaks to the nature of speculation both in the economic sense—that of a risky financial investment with the expectation of a substantial gain—and also the contemplation of ideas around the unknown. In many ways, it is emblematic of the cultural and economic landscape in the Bay Area.

Ranu Mukherjee, 'Cave Drawing', 2015, Ink and pigment on paper. Photo: © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Ranu Mukherjee, ‘Cave Drawing’, 2015, ink and pigment on paper. Photo: © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Mukherjee speculates the implications of investment and the economy by linking histories and mapping historic sites. Her neo-futurist perspective links together the Chinese mining sites of the Yuba River with the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. By converging these two events, she hopes to show “mythical time”, what she describes as the links between two seemingly disparate events. Artwork shown in the exhibition such as 350 Leagues Further West shows the syncretism of West and East that Mukherjee attempts to reveal through the linkages of history.

Ranu Mukherjee, '350 leagues further West', 2015, Ink and acrylic on mulberry paper.  Photo: © Ranu Mukherjee. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Ranu Mukherjee, ‘350 Leagues Further West’, 2015, ink and acrylic on mulberry paper. Photo: © Ranu Mukherjee. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris. © Ranu Mukherjee.

“Extracted” features Mukherjee’s use of a breadth of media including textiles, works on paper, sound projects and her signature hybrid films. She uses objects from the museum’s permanent collection to influence her art practice including a second century monkey tree that was placed in Chinese tombs for good fortune. By using a variety of media in her oeuvre, Mukherjee states that:

The exhibition is, in some ways, an excavation of ghosts. It is an investigation of narratives of the future produced by the legacy of prospecting, and a contemplation of cultural resilience via the trajectories of attempted exclusionary politics. My intention is to create images that address their audience viscerally, imaginatively and speculatively.

Ranu Mukherjee, 'Placeholder 2', 2015, Digital collage. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Ranu Mukherjee, ‘Placeholder 2’, 2015, digital collage. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

The exhibition is an ongoing, morphing body of work that will be presented in three parts over the course of the entire show. Opening on 6 November 2015, 26 January 2016 and 3 May 2016, each section will focus on various aspects of history that touch upon the stereotypes, time and global capitalism.

Ranu Mukherjee, 'Passageway for the Graves of Those Who Are Away From Home', 2015, Ink and pigment on mulberry paper.  Photo: © Asian Art Museum of San Fran- cisco. Image courtesy of the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Ranu Mukherjee, ‘Passageway for the Graves of Those Who Are Away From Home’, 2015, Ink and pigment on mulberry paper. Photo: © Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. Image courtesy the artist and Gallery Wendi Norris, San Francisco. © Ranu Mukherjee.

Christina Ayson

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Related Topics: Indian artists, American artists, painting, film, art and globalisation, museum shows, events in the USA

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Brittney

By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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