Ranu Mukherjee : A Bright Stage
July 14, 2018 - January 20, 2019
For A Bright Stage, Ranu Mukherjee combines printed linen, embroidered silk, paint, and animation to metaphorically transform the museum's atrium into a grove of banyan trees. This tree, native to India, is sacred to people of diverse faiths, and its immense canopies define the outdoor meeting places that historically formed the social, commercial, and political core of many Indian communities. India’s national tree, the banyan is also a symbol of the country’s fight against colonial power. Mukherjee’s printed and painted images evoke these associations, drawing from collective and individual gestures of protest against the violation of human and civil rights.
Responding to the history and architecture of the de Young, A Bright Stage reflects on the cultural and spatial perspectives of the museum. In this work, the adjective “bright” applies to qualities both visual and auditory (a bright sound is one with high frequencies). Invoking the banyan's form and mystical and political connotations, the installation accentuates the atrium’s physical qualities and its role as a social gathering space.
“It feels like history is cracking open right now,” says Mukherjee. “I’m thinking a lot about the amplification of public voices carrying histories of colonialism and feminism… The de Young’s historically and geographically wide-ranging collection, with its colonial, nineteenth-century roots, is informing the trajectory of my work. It has the potential to talk back and slowly turn cultural perspective inside out.”
OPENING EVENTS | SATURDAY, JULY 14
Ranu Mukherjee in conversation with Claudia Schmuckli, Curator in Charge, Contemporary Art and Programming
1–1:30 pm | Koret Auditorium, de Young
1:30–4 pm | Atrium, de Young