Beta Space: Ranu Mukherjee: Telling Fortunes

  • Image
    An interior view from behind of two people sitting in a wooden swing in an outdoor, enclosed patio on a sunny day. The photograph was taken through a grid of windows with three rows of windows. Each square window pane has a vinyl letter adhered spelling the words "beta space."

    Ranu Mukherjee
    Listening Park, 2012
    Porch swing, hybrid fruit trees, audio loop, speakers

  • Image
    A narrow and translucent cloth hangs vertically on a wall. An abstract image with saturated, contrasting colors in the center floats between the red striped edges of the cloth. The central form appears to rise into the shape of a blurred human figure.

    Ranu Mukherjee
    Double Lingham, 2012
    Ink on cotton and paper
    60 ¾ × 47 3/8 inches
    Courtesy of the artist and Frey Norris Contemporary and Modern

  • Image
    A abstracted painting depicts a hunting scene set against the backdrop of a forest. In parts of the image, fields of rich green fill in the silhouettes of figures and create contrast between more detailed depictions of animals and human figures.

    Ranu Mukherjee
    Matter and Force (Mahishasura), 2012
    Ink on paper
    27 ½ × 27 ½ inches
    Courtesy of the artist and Frey Norris Contemporary and Modern

  • Image
    An abstract image with a pink background and silver bands across the top and bottom edges. Centered against this are geometric shapes positioned at an angle like powerful beams of light shooting upwards. Behind and between the beams and the pink sea are three rows of tree silhouettes.

    Ranu Mukherjee
    Ghost River 2 (no place home) (work in progress), 2012
    ink on silk
    96 × 45 ½ inches
    Courtesy of the artist and Frey Norris Contemporary and Modern

  • Image
    An abstract tree filled with birds and fruit is on yellow rectangular fabric. The tree takes up 2/3 of the space with bands along its borders. These bands frame the tree and are lighter weight than the thick green and red borders on the left and right of the tree.

    Ranu Mukherjee
    Tree of Life (Schinus molle), 2012
    48 3/8 × 79 3/4 inches
    Ink on cotton and silk



  • Image
    A pink rectangular object set an an angle against a dark blue background. The object resembles a package that has been ripped opened on one end. A yellow circle draws the eye the darkened space of the opening offering a faint view the contents.

    Ranu Mukherjee
    A Pile of Money Hidden in a Basket of Beedi’s, Gopi Godhwani, 2012
    27 ½ × 27 ½ inches
    Ink on colored paper



We tend to think of nomads as age-old tribes who wandered the worlds’ deserts and plains in search of food, water, resources, or trade. But who are the nomads of the 21st century—e.g. migrant laborers, expatriates, transnationals, global high-tech virtuosos, international students, refugees, those who commute and relocate for work?

Ranu Mukherjee is fascinated by the idea of the contemporary nomad and the experience of repeated relocation that is common for so many of us today. What better place than Silicon Valley—with its rich history of immigration, itinerant workers, dot-com booms and busts, and outsourcing—to explore this updated notion of the nomad.

Memory, places, and possessions all contribute to our mutable sense of a “home” as something that you can take with you. For the ongoing project that she calls the “nomadic archive,” Mukherjee collects images that represent people’s very personal experiences of moving or up-rootedness. Mukherjee then elegantly renders the images in ink and paint on paper. The images contributed range from an airplane cabin to Rajasthani shoes (traditional Indian shoes). For Telling Fortunes, Mukherjee will gather diverse examples of contemporary nomadism in Silicon Valley – for example the bees at Happy Hollow Park and Zoo, San Jose; immigrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan; and the Buddhist temples followers in the area. Mukherjee wants her art to reflect the idea that “images are collectively made.” For her, such creativity—a coming-together of the experiences of a community—generates positive energy and auspiciousness.

Via painting, digital animation, and photography, Mukherjee transforms this crowd-sourced material into brilliantly colorful films. The result is a dazzling mix of fact and fantasy; digital and analog; and the spiritual and material.

You can be a part of this exhibition (the third installment of SJMA’s experimental series, “Beta Space”) by contributing material to Mukherjee’s “nomadic archive.” Please send your reflections, experiences, or ideas of the nomadic (in image or story-form) to or visit

Ranu Mukherjee: Telling Fortunes is presented by SJMA in conjunction with the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial: Seeking Silicon Valley.

ZERO1 Biennial: Seeking Silicon Valley

Sep 12 – Dec 8, 2012

Inviting more than 150 artists from over 13 countries, the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial, presents works at the forefront of media art – collaborating with international cultural institutions and iconic Silicon Valley companies to showcase three months of Bay Area exhibitions, events, and performances – in museums and galleries, in skywriting above San Francisco, in the streets and storefronts of Silicon Valley, on iPads and smartphones, and across the internet. To learn more visit

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Theres and Dennis Rohan
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
James Irvine Foundation