We tend to think of nomads as age-old tribes who wandered the worlds’ deserts and plains in search of food, water, resources, or trade. But who are the nomads of the 21st century—e.g. migrant laborers, expatriates, transnationals, global high-tech virtuosos, international students, refugees, those who commute and relocate for work?
Ranu Mukherjee is fascinated by the idea of the contemporary nomad and the experience of repeated relocation that is common for so many of us today. What better place than Silicon Valley—with its rich history of immigration, itinerant workers, dot-com booms and busts, and outsourcing—to explore this updated notion of the nomad.
Memory, places, and possessions all contribute to our mutable sense of a “home” as something that you can take with you. For the ongoing project that she calls the “nomadic archive,” Mukherjee collects images that represent people’s very personal experiences of moving or up-rootedness. Mukherjee then elegantly renders the images in ink and paint on paper. The images contributed range from an airplane cabin to Rajasthani shoes (traditional Indian shoes). For Telling Fortunes, Mukherjee will gather diverse examples of contemporary nomadism in Silicon Valley – for example the bees at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, San Jose; immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan; and the Buddhist temples followers in the area. Mukherjee wants her art to reflect the idea that “images are collectively made.” For her, such creativity—a coming-together of the experiences of a community—generates positive energy and auspiciousness.
Via painting, digital animation, and photography, Mukherjee transforms this crowd-sourced material into brilliantly colorful films. The result is a dazzling mix of fact and fantasy; digital and analog; and the spiritual and material.
You can be a part of this exhibition (the third installment of SJMA’s experimental series, “Beta Space”) by contributing material to Mukherjee’s “nomadic archive.” Please send your reflections, experiences, or ideas of the nomadic (in image or story-form) to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ranumukherjee.com.
Ranu Mukherjee: Telling Fortunes is presented by SJMA in conjunction with the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial: Seeking Silicon Valley (September 12 – December 8, 2012). The ZERO1 Biennial, distributed throughout Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area, is North America’s most significant showcase of contemporary work at the nexus of art and technology. For more information visit www.zero1biennial.org.