FEATURED LONG DURATIONAL WORK
RICEVILLE/WHITEVILLE (2006), MONALI MEHER
DURATION: THREE DAYS, SEVEN HOURS PER DAY
Photographs by Monica Ragazzini
"Riceville/Whiteville" (2006) was a temporary landscape installation by visual artist Monali Meher. The piece consisted of the artist building temporary structures made of natural, site specific materials at a construction site for a new bus station. The materials included sand, bricks, cement tiles, wood, and rice the artist cooked right on site of the installation. She then used the rice as both decoration and holding material for the structures she created. Meher did not ask for the construction to stop in order to exhibit her installations, but instead wanted the installations to get destroyed overnight so that she would have to begin again the next day and rebuild. She did this for three days, seven hours per day.
The site-specific installation created by durational performance refers to the death ritual of the artist's origin. A growing landscape installation expands through performance and is a memory of ceremonial procedure relating to the cyclical movement of end and renewal.
The transitory structures were made with cooked rice, sand, and bricks on the spot where the area was under construction. Household utensils were used as moulds to form different shapes of cooked rice in this construction together with materials from that site and juxtaposed with the urban surrounding of modern architecture in Uithof, university town in Utrecht, Netherlands.
‘Rice’ as basic food is known globally. The act of cooking rice outside on the open field with a primitive installation and organically built temporal structures is a significant contrast to the ‘civilized’ environment. Possible change or damage in the newly built structure due to traffic, people or natural calamities during the performance was unavoidable. Transformations were organically adopted throughout the performance as the artist persisted in her act of making territorial landscape.