Ranjeeta Kumari deftly navigates along the tender lines of home, memory and identity. Her work is a commentary on the drowned-out voices of marginalised women in our society. From the lack of acknowledgment of domestic labour they provide to their contribution in major revolutions in the country, the struggles and hopes of these women of the land continue to be ignored in our deeply patriarchal society. Ranjeeta’s oeuvre is a celebration of the aesthetics from these margins and questions what we know of labour, displacement and migration. Inspired by Bhikhari Thakur, a theatre artist also known as the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpur’, her works are a ‘poetry of resistance’ that embody the ‘intimate revolutions by women’, a phrase coined by the economist and author Shrayana Bhattacharya, in their everyday domestic lives. Through engagement with her locality, Ranjeeta accesses the collective memories of the women of the community in the form of old folk songs and worn out saris that become expressions of untold stories.
Ranjeeta Kumari born and brought up in Bihar, currently lives in Patna. She was recently selected to be a part of the exhibits ‘Plea to the Foreigner’ curated by Prabhakar Kamble for Biennale Africaine De La Photographie and ‘Viral Vacuum’ by art historian Mara Johanna Komel. Art writer and curator Nancy Adajania wrote about Ranjeeta’s practice in ‘The Luminosity of Loneliness’ for the publication L’Internationale, an organization co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the EU in 2020. Ranjeeta received her BA in painting from the College of Arts and Crafts in Patna in 2008 and graduated with a Masters in Fine Art (Research Programme) from the Shiv Nadar University in 2016.
"I took elements from their daily life such as their vibrant colorful attire, the sari and objects of daily household to represent the story. It is quite interesting and inspiring for me. These women use saris, in many ways other than draping, such as in Sujani, a traditional art form made out of old saris at home, to create another form of narrative storytelling.
My process includes collective community work. Old worn-out saris collected from the women of my neighborhood and my family are a representational portrait of them. Women singing traditional songs at home and a series of paintings of everyday household activity, the poetry of their lives and story of the resistance of women. These are the songs they sing while doing collective chores such as cooking, cleaning and making Sujani. The songs talk about the hardships and solidarity among these women but like their colorful saris, all is not grey in their songs. Under the veil of folk songs, the combined work tells the tale of domestic women labor from my homeland and the history of the migrant’s family left to fend for themselves. It examines how a domestic act can be transformed into an act of resistance, nourished by many folk tales and songs that expresses untold stories"
– Ranjeeta Kumari
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