Installation (Wall Pasted Images, Projections, Photography)
This site specific installation employs the structure of the passageway to reference the idea of “passing”, specifically that of Asian Bengalis as Black Americans in the early 1900s. It consists of large skin-toned, camouflaged murals along the walls of the gallery, banyans trees on one side and barbershops on the ground floor of Harlem brownstones, on the other. Extremely resilient epiphytes, banyan trees adapt and spread to where they can thrive. In India, they have a long history of serving as locations for communal gathering. Barbershops have a similar function as a symbol for grassroots empowerment in America, a place that nurtures uninhibited discussion and dialogue. On the skylights above, are a series of latticed, stencils of British steamships from the early 1900s, that cast moving shadows along the walls and floor of the exhibition space. A grid of photographic prints, close up portraits of “black” hair, fills the back wall.
The installation invites conversation around the complexities of power, privilege and access. In presenting visual representations of the banyan and the barber shop connected through the shadowy ships, we reference our own cross-cultural reality and invite the viewer to discover the possibility of shared histories within seeming Otherness.