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Artist Statement

I am a conceptual artist: my works are philosophical and/or psychological inquiries. 

My art invites people to resituate themselves outside the throes of personal affect and emotional captivity and prompts them to consider something, often the psyche, from a critical remove, more incisively and more closely. The more nuanced, subtle, 'blurry' and complex the problem at hand, the more invested and focused I am as an analyst. 

I work primarily with text, performance, and video. 

Humor and a dash of on-screen charm are thoughtfully employed weapons of delivery in my performative pieces. The theatrical, sensual, affective ‘body’ of my performances make my works enjoyable for larger audiences while the cerebrally-intensive, dense writing ‘body’, my carefully crafted dialectics, harbor the kind of nuances that titillate niche-audiences to spend time with an artwork and explore it more intimately with each return. This two-fold materiality is a strategic language choice I make as a creative: one suited to a faster-paced gallery experience but also to longer-term, intimate communion with a work in private. 

My art raises critical, urgent questions: questions we miss asking when we fail to attend as closely as we ought, when we disregard the indispensable role individual context plays in analysis and fall victim to what I call ‘intellectual slack.’ 

When a man is telling a story about his date who left her purse in his apartment, saying ‘it was intentional and had certain motivations,’ and other people are telling him it was ‘likely just an error,’ I ‘hold’ the question open, resisting the social norm to conclude. When persons late for meetings are seen as absent-minded and disorganized with their schedule and someone claims they are using tardiness to negotiate power in social situations, I again ‘hold’ the question open for a considerable duration. My works essentially sustain ‘important questions in a long-pause': they attempt to slow down people and their judgments for the sake of accuracy. My dialectic ‘zooms in’ to show the devil lurking in the details of the individual psyches rather than a commonly observed human behavior-intent correlation we may have stored in our minds as a ‘pattern.’ Patterns increase efficiency but may sometimes sacrifice accuracy. Again, objectivity:efficiency, subjectivity:accuracy. In these situations, I do not determine for my audience whether the imputations are insightful or else false. I welcome them to partake in close observation and analysis, to dwell in the space of psychological agnosticism as long as they lack detailed data for high accuracy analyses. Sometimes, we make projections and extrapolations from our own lived experiences and relational exchanges. I bring attention to context, to individual psyches. I empower people to pose probing, uncomfortable questions about the psyches they encounter.

What does precision, thoroughness, rigor and a minimal margin of error look like in observation-analysis methodologies in soft sciences like investigations of the psyche? My art is research-intensive and draws attention to these critical considerations, on immaculate handling of data integrity. How do we nurture a robust mind (for observation-analysis) and maintain imperviousness to environmental intrusions (such as gaslighting) and our own cognitive illusions? If our perceptions can be kneaded and shaped like cookie-dough (for ex: in a manipulator’s hands) because of our propensity to mental laziness or lack of 'cognitive hygiene,' are we truly intellectually and psychologically sober and autonomous? The mind is a muscle- the more we strength-train it, the harder it becomes for even skilled players to infiltrate our cognitive fields. 

How do social preferences shape the way we consume or evaluate ideas? For example: why is it that when we overhear an interaction between two partners where one is telling the other how they don’t appreciate the latter ‘behaving like a single person with every Tom, Dick, and Harry they encounter,’ the average person is more quick to conclude that the person vocalizing their dissatisfaction is a ‘controlling’ or ‘insecure’ individual rather than question if the alleged person is exploiting a open, warm, ditzy persona to disrespect or dance around their partner’s relationship boundaries? An example of a ‘blurry’ investigation scene draws attention to flirtatiousness of the not-overt kind, a form like the 'smile': everyone smiles, how 'dare' someone project their own mess onto a person's smile and attribute intentions to it!... my work requests we hold our reins, look carefully at the smile and the psyche/history of the person smiling (context). It is easier to convince (manipulate) an unsuspecting outsider that a smile is someone's innocent amicability and warmth, for the alleged person to gaslight their partner into believing it is the latter’s 'insecurity speaking.’ I zoom into subtle, critical details of the psyches in the scene, playing devil’s advocate to slow down my audience’s judgments, to make them note details that may be overlooked, or details we as the audience may intentionally choose to overlook. This investigative piece explores the psychoanalytical interplay between the partners, but speaking of 'intentional overlooking': it expands into a rare psychoanalysis of the audiences and sympathizers. 

As an artist and an individual, I am deeply invested in trying to recalibrate the scales of human observation, analysis, and judgment to a true neutral, a true 0-0 score for all parties in a psychoanalytic investigation, with my art. Ideas like 'children never lie about sexual abuse, there is no way for them to know such information, and any and all allegations by them are true' are put under fine scrutiny, when inconsistencies in
 evidence surface in investigations, and we may sit down, frown, and say, ‘but sometimes, albeit rarely, they do lie for attention, as negative attention is better than no attention at all.’ This recalibration of psychoanalytic scales to 0-0, freeing our mind of its biases, is routine in cognitive hygiene practices.

I feel a personal obligation to bring to attention a widely-prevalent uneven distribution of who gets the primary benefit of doubt or ‘social sympathies’ in a situation, who is seen as the problem before we even attend to the problem closely or make enough observations, and how emotional thinking poses a serious threat to us and our communities. It makes me sad, upset, annoyed, and worried. People who change our scales quietly (without us realizing we are having our minds ‘knead’ by these intelligent manipulators) are sharp, but we aren’t stupid. We make errors because we hurry. My work situates my audience at an important intersection – ‘How much of a price do we pay for our lax intellectual and psychological boundaries, for carelessness with regard to cognitive hygiene, for failing to think critically about our diet of manipulated reasonings and tarnished data?’

Innocent people pay steep prices for intellectual or analytical slack in our society, for our hurriedness and fatigue to see through carefully crafted lies- I truly wish to put an end to this horrible phenomenon. As an artist, I dovetail my need for personal privacy with my capacity to be authentic/vulnerable enough to have an emotional link to my audience. I can safely say that my work may be clinical and cerebral but my inspiration to pursue it arises from an intimate place of emotionality, love, and care. I care because tampered investigations and analysis betray truth: it poses a grave threat to the safety and well-being
 of our loved ones and our communities.

*The examples used in the statement are all from works currently in progress. Please check back later in the year for that completed series. Banerjee is currently working on a piece called ‘Dues’ that is part of an extended series of context-focused investigations.

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