“From the ceiling hangs a series of forms, composed of small, interconnected circles of various sizes. These are made with stainless steel armatures, which have been wrapped in muslin that was dipped in tamarind kernel powder glue and finally, coated with lacquer. Some of the lattice’s loops are open or penetrable while others are fully swathed in muslin. Both allow for Shettar’s desired effect as the open spaces and the fabric’s translucence let light pour through, engaging the gallery’s natural daylight. Through this fantastical, immersive, environment viewers can wander, explore and hopefully, much like Shettar, daydream.”
Ranjani Shettar creates delicate sculptural installations that deftly blend references to the natural and the man-made, the landscape and the urbanscape. Her practice is characterized by bold experimentation with a range of materials, such as beeswax, sawdust, wood, latex, PVC tubing, silicone rubber, and metal. Shettar's new work, Sun-sneezers blow light bubbles is made with tamarind kernel powder and muslin. The enigmatic title—referencing the phenomenon whereby some people sneeze when exposed to bright light or the sun—reveals her interest in working with scientific phenomena in a playful or poetic way. In alluding to this inconsequential genetic “condition,” Shettar may be light-heartedly referencing the natural glow that she hopes to harness in the ICA’s light-filled galleries.
Fashioned into organic shapes recalling soap bubbles or multiplying cells, the tamarind and muslin forms will be hung throughout the gallery, creating a dream-like, all-encompassing environment. Shettar’s use of tamarind kernel powder stems partly from her interest in traditional craft communities and their techniques. Shettar visited the village of Kinnala, India to learn about the material; toy and idol makers there mix tamarind kernel powder and sawdust to make their objects. However, rather than employ the technique for its original purpose, Shettar transforms tamarind kernel powder into a diffuse atmosphere, one that transcends any particular time or place.