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Ranjani Shettar Creates New Sculpture For The ICA's Momentum Series

Press Release

The tenth exhibition in the Institute of Contemporary Art’s Momentum series features Ranjani Shettar, an artist born and based in Bangalore, India. Momentum examines new developments in contemporary art, inviting emerging artists from the U.S. and around the world to create new work for the ICA., Shettar creates delicate sculptural installations that deftly blend the natural with the man-made, the landscape and the urban environment. Momentum 10: Ranjani Shettar, the artist’s first solo presentation in a U.S. museum, will be on view from March 19 to July 13, 2008.

For the ICA, Shettar will present a new work entitled Sun-sneezers blow light bubbles. The suspended sculpture will be made with tamarind kernel powder and muslin. Fashioned into organic shapes reminiscent of mushroom caps, soap bubbles, or multiplying cells, these forms will be hung throughout the gallery, creating an immersive, dream-like environment. The title—a reference to the phenomenon whereby some people sneeze when exposed to bright light or the sun—reveals Shettar’s interest in science as well as a playfulness, both of which are seen throughout her oeuvre.

“The Momentum series takes a global look at the artists gaining pace in the field,” says Jill Medvedow, Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art. “Ranjani Shettar’s use of materials both organic and man-made suggests the complex cultural associations of India and the collision of tradition and modernity.”

Shettar’s use of tamarind kernel powder stems from her interest in traditional craft communities and their techniques.  She visited the village of Kinnala, India, to learn about the material, which is used by toy and idol makers. In Shettar’s hands, however, the material is transformed into a diffuse atmosphere, one that transcends any particular time or place.

“Shettar’s practice is characterized by a vigorous exploration of new materials,” says Emily Moore Brouillet, Assistant Curator at the ICA. “She starts with an idea and searches for the material that best expresses her vision. Whether scrap metal from junkyard-bound cars or lacquered beads handmade by Bangalore-area toymakers, Shettar transforms these unlikely materials to create something elegant and evocative.”

In her previous work, Shettar has mixed natural materials with both industrial and handmade processes. Heliotropes (2006) includes a series of long-stemmed vulcanized latex pieces that extend and reach from the wall as if following the sun, and Vasanta (2004) is a vast net, in which thousands of intersections are plugged with bright balls of beeswax suggesting stellar constellations as well as global connectivity. In In Bloom (2004) hanging clusters of fuchsia lacquered wooden beads reference the bougainvillea flowers that color India’s increasingly urbanized cities.
Shettar’s works are often site-responsive. While an artist-in-residence at Artpace in Texas, she incorporated local mesquite wood into smoothly sculpted forms that mushroomed from the wall.  For the 2007 Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates, she created Me, no, not me, buy me, eat me, wear me, have me, me, no, not me, a grouping of large woven metal vessels made from recycled cars which had been shipped to India to be dismantled and reused.   

Shettar received a Bachelor and a Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Karnataka Chitrakala Parishath, in Bangalore in 1998 and 2000, respectively.  Her work has been included in exhibitions such as How Latitudes Become Forms: Art in a Global Age (2003), Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Landscape Confection (2005), Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Zones of Contact (2006), XV Sydney Biennale, Sydney, Australia; and Still Life: Art, Ecology and the Politics of Change (2007), VIII Sharjah Biennial, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.  She was an artist-in-residence at Artpace, San Antonio, Texas in 2006 and is part of the 2007 Lyon Biennale, in Lyon, France.

Momentum 10: Ranjani Shettar is supported by Group Momentum: the Cartin Family, Rebecca and Martin Eisenberg, Sue and Nat Jeppson, Barbara Lee, Carol and Sol LeWitt, and Marlene and David Persky.

The Momentum series is funded through the generous support of the American Center Foundation, the NLT Foundation, and the LEF Foundation.

An influential forum for multi-disciplinary arts, the Institute of Contemporary Art has been at the leading edge of art in Boston for seventy years. Like its iconic building on Boston’s waterfront, the ICA offers new ways of engaging with the world around us. Its exhibitions and programs provide access to contemporary art, artists, and the creative process, inviting audiences of all ages and backgrounds to participate in the excitement of new art and ideas. The Institute of Contemporary Art, located at 100 Northern Avenue, is open Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 am – 5 pm; Thursday and Friday, 10 am – 9 pm; and Saturday and Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. Admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors and students, and free for members and children 17 and under. Free admission on Target Free Thursday Nights, 59 pm. For more information, call 617-478-3100 or visit our Web site at www.icaboston.org.

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Ranjani Shettar, In Bloom (detail), 2004. Private Collection, New York. Courtesy of the Artist and Talwar Gallery, New York / New Delhi

Ranjani Shettar, Fire in the Belly, 2007. Courtesy of the Artist and Talwar Gallery, New York / New Delhi

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