Ondormohol is a Bengali word referring to the inner or private areas of a house. In this exhibition, Indian-born artist Anindita Banerjee has assembled visual imaginings of a Bengali girl, prompted by inheriting a piece of antique Bengali embroidery while living in Ballarat.
As Banerjee was growing up in Kolkata within an urban postcolonial cityscape, she was fascinated by the rajbaris, crumbling colonial-era mansions, and her imagination became stimulated by stories of that era. Years later, she experienced a shock of familiarity when encountering colonial-era buildings and gardens in Ballarat. She describes this experience as entering a third space, as if she had travelled in time.
This exhibition captures the visual imaginings of a Bengali girl now living in regional Victoria brought about by the juxtaposition of an object (the antique embroidery) and a place (Ballarat). She has recorded images of her daughter, her cousins and herself, dressed in traditional wear of the ‘idle rich’ from early 1900s Bengal, performing gestures from the ondormohol (the inner quarters) of the rajbaris in public places in Ballarat which remind her of Kolkata.
These interventions into public places by performances of private activities trace themes of displacement, memory and home – they create a simulacrum and manifest into a tangible rendition of this fantastical third-space.
An Art Gallery of Ballarat exhibition for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale.