Rina Banerjee’s Crib Sculpture, part of Dyed Roots, comments on tourism’s excess.
DYED ROOTS: THE NEW EMERGENCE OF CULTURE at MOCCA (952 Queen West), to October 26. Reception tonight (Thursday, September 11), 7-10 pm. 416-395-0067. Rating: NNNN
Whether we've emigrated to escape war or poverty or seen our economic security eroded by outsourcing, we're all trying to make sense of life in a globalized world. The installations in Dyed Roots, most by artists from the South Asian diaspora, confront, with wit and imagination, the contemporary clash of cultures experienced by immigrants.
India-born, New York-based Rina Banerjee makes fascinating sculptures out of natural objects, tourist souvenirs and decorative exotica that comment both on the childish irresponsibility of tropical vacationers and the tenuousness and degradation of life in a tourist economy.
A cradle hanging over a beachy sand pile is not very effectively sheltered by paper umbrellas, and a wall-mounted spray of leaves, gilded seed pods, googly-eyed gourds and testicular-shaped glass balls has a long title that refers to "friedballs [that] cure the hunger of a labouring man."
Local artist and curator Emelie Chhangur contributes two pieces involving salt, one of the first items of trade. One installation is a primal puddle of blood and salt, while the placement of Daughter, a rusty steel ring encrusted with salt crystals that's half-hidden behind a column, poignantly invokes protective parents.
A drywall-enclosed room contains Rashmi Varma's Embroidery Parlour. Inside, a stuffed gown of the same grey fabric that drapes the walls sits on a chaise, while a cone of bright red thread awaits weekend participatory performances by the local artist, who also has a clothing line. An angry opening has been smashed through one side of the pretty Victorian box, perhaps an act of rebellion by the invisible garment worker.
Dyed Roots is rounded out by Brendan Fernandes's deer installation, Reeta Saeed's partially unwoven British flags and Victor Bergen Henegouwen's photo of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a immigrant who's taken a brave stand against Muslim fundamentalism.
Curator Camilla Singh makes her own statement on displacement by moving her office into a cage-like enclosure in the MOCCA lobby for the duration of this hopeful and smart show.