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Anindita presents 'Ondormohol' of colonial Kolkata at the Art Gallery of Ballarat

Anindita Banerjee was struck by the similarities between the colonial buildings of Ballarat and the crumbling mansions of North Kolkata, India. Source: The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

Dr. Anindita Banerjee, an artist of Indian descent, lives in Ballarat, a small picturesque town around 100 km west of Melbourne. She began to envisage of an exhibition after seeing the strange resemblance of the British colonial buildings in North Calcutta with the colonial buildings of Ballarat town.

Visiting Ballarat for the first time in 2016, Indian-born artist Dr. Anindita Banerjee was struck by the similarities between the colonial buildings of Ballarat and the crumbling mansions of North Kolkata, India.  

Ms Banerjee explores themes of memory, imagination, displacement and home.
Ms Banerjee explores themes of memory, imagination, displacement and home.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

Now living in Ballarat, Dr. Banerjee has assembled the visual imaginings of a Bengali girl whose consciousness shifts across multiple points of time, including Kolkata in the early 20th century, the artist’s own memory of Kolkata as a young woman, and the colonial streetscapes of 21st century Ballarat. 

Ms Banerjee has assembled the visual imaginings of a Bengali girl.
Ms Banerjee has assembled the visual imaginings of a Bengali girl.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

Ondormohol, a Bengali word meaning the inner or private areas of a house, references both the physical inner space of a home and the hidden spaces of the mind. Dr. Banerjee explores themes of memory, imagination, displacement and home through the depiction of intimate gestures taking place in public spaces.  

Ondormohol, a Bengali word meaning the inner or private areas of a house.
Ondormohol, a Bengali word meaning the inner or private areas of a house.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

References to the colonial past and contemporary life are evident in each photograph as a reminder of merging time periods.  

The Lindsay Family Sitting Room has been reimagined as the living quarters of a Bengali girl from Kolkata.
The Lindsay Family Sitting Room has been reimagined as the living quarters of a Bengali girl from Kolkata.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

The photographs are embellished with sacred Bengali designs known as alpona, motifs of cultural significance which are passed down through generations. Each photograph is printed on the top of a pidi, a low wooden table traditionally used in the home for domestic and devotional purposes. 

Each photograph is printed on the top of a pidi, a low wooden table traditionally used in the home for domestic and devotional purposes.
Each photograph is printed on the top of a pidi, a low wooden table traditionally used in the home for domestic and devotional purposes.
The Art Gallery of Ballarat, Victoria

The Lindsay Family Sitting Room has been reimagined as the living quarters of a Bengali girl from Kolkata in the early 20th century, with an accompanying sound installation including the words of Nobel Prize-winning poet Rabindranath Tagore, whose writings form the basis of the titles of Banerjee’s artworks. 

The exhibition will continue at the Art Gallery of Ballarat until 16 January 2022, 10 am to 5 pm daily. 

Click on the audio player above to listen to the full conversation of Dr. Anindita Banerjee in Bangla.

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