Rajorshi Ghosh

Ganges: A cultural no-man's land

From 2008, Indian born artist Ghosh began to repeatedly travel to and research the landscape along the river Ganges in the city of Varanasi (Benares) in his native country India as a model for exploring the potential of aesthetic reconsideration of 'local' sites rooted in the cultural contradictions of myth and modernity.

The Ganges is a place of death and life. Hindus from all over the world bring their dead to the river as a final resting place. Cremation anywhere along the Ganges is desirable, as it is believed to liberate the soul from the material cycle of pain and suffering. For centuries, ashes from the cremation and partially burned corpses belonging to families unable to afford sufficient firewood needed for cremation is being floated onto the river along with livestock corpses.

In recent years dual forces of modernization and globalization have contributed to the accumulating debris of solid wastes and other consumer residues from local industries and global intruders like the McDonalds, the KFC-s, the Coke-s and the Pepsi-s, which float in the river alongside often centuries old human ashes and other remnants from cremation. The Ganges, today, is a disquieting residue of the primitive and the present, a global wasteland that embodies an overwhelming process of increasing cultural and commercial colonization of the local.

Intrigued by its aesthetic and symbolic complexity, Ghosh began to repeatedly study the transforming landscape, caught within the indeterminate temporality of a cultural no-man's-land, revealing in the process what is unique to a local and that which is universal.


Ghosh has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally. His recent videos and installations have been shown at the final screening of the World One Minute Video Art Festival in Belgium and at the international juried Freewaves Festival of New Media Arts in Los Angeles. In 2007 Ghosh received the prestigious Jury's Recommendation Award at the 11th Japan Media Arts Festival in Tokyo. Ghosh is an Inlaks scholar and University of California Regents scholar. Ghosh has been invited as a participating speaker in many national and international festivals and conferences. In 2008, he was a guest speaker at the 14th International Panorama Conference in the Hague, in Netherlands. Ghosh holds a MFA in Design and Media Arts from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and a Bachelors in Communication Design with a specialization in Graphic Art and Photography from the National Institute of Design (NID), India. Since 2007, he has been a full-time visiting assistant professor in the Department of Art at the University of Toledo.

The Los Angeles Times described his recent solo show at Steve Turner Contemporary gallery in Los Angeles as "zen touch to video," pointing out Ghosh's interest in the transfiguration of the commonplace into the "miraculous everyday."

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