A visual portrait and sound art collaboration by Sheinina Raj and Nelly Furtado
A conceptually rigorous portfolio exploring conventions of ethnicity through a series of costumed self-portraiture featuring artist Raj arrayed in the traditional finery of diverse nations with the backdrop of music by Nelly Furtado. Raj uses herself — both her story and her body — as both the intuitive site and narrative touchstone for what is ultimately a deeply personal and generously universal message of peace, acceptance, and beauty. Raj’s own crossborder heritage and intercontinental family history first inspired her to embark on this serial self-transformation. The artists inviting countenance is revealed as ethnically morphic as she successively embodies both the epitome and increasing obsolescence of race-based constructs of identity. The larger than life scale, and the perfect regularity of Raj’s serene gaze and relaxed but formal front-facing pose creates a clean, almost classical structure within which comparisons are encouraged, as both differences and samenesses are celebrated equally, and attention to detail moves the story forward. In these images, audiences see the artist more deeply, and inevitably come to see themselves as well. Sound makes for not only a more complete experience, but saliently provides a new and perhaps unexpected interpretation of the art. Nelly Furtado’s work with INTERCULTURAL is based on her world music sensibility and the fusion of multi-linguistic layering for which she is known.
The touring art collection Intercultural is inspired by a purpose for each exhibition to serve as an immersive art experience uniting humanity for a peaceful coexistence worldwide.
In 1891 during the British Raj era my great great grandmother a young girl of six years old played on the beach in Goa, India. A British officer approached her and offered candy, which she accepted as a kind gesture. He then offered her more although expressed that she must follow him as there was a stash of candy to be had on his ship. Innocently she followed him. Once on board the officer lead her into a shipping crate where he sealed the entrance and trapped her. She lived in this crate for a month sailing along the oceanic route from the west coast of India to the South Pacific Island of Fiji. Anchored in the Port of Lautoka she was taken to a sugar cane plantation where she continued life as a slave. There she met my great great grandfather a nine year old boy also a child slave who had been kidnapped from India.
Generations had passed on the colonized island of Fiji when in 1963 my father a young boy and grandmother were officially recognized as British subjects when they boarded the Southern Cross bound for Great Britain. Landing at the infamous London Docks they were not welcomed by all in the motherland. My father was beaten often by skinheads who disapproved of his settlement.
Despite a lineage of deplorable relation my father fell in love with an English woman. Therein lay the genes that spawned my life in the country known to modern man as the United Kingdom.
My name is Sheinina Lolita Raj, a person who was born from distinctively diverse ancestors, culturally, religiously, linguistically and physically. While my roots are Fijian, racially speaking I am half Indian, half English and born in the UK. Believing in the promised land of Canada my family immigrated to Vancouver when I was five years old, hopeful that I would enjoy a peaceful life free of prejudices.
Although, the truth is you cannot run from racism.
Mankind has evolved to visually interpret their environment, a survival instinct ensures individuals are categorized. When the color of my skin presents an unfamiliar reference, inevitably a barrier of discriminative notions are formed.
In honor of cultural diversity, “Intercultural” reflects just how different yet the same we are.
Adorned in the worldly traditional regalia of Fiji, India, Pakistan, Morocco, Armenia, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia, Spain, Turkey, Greece, Portugal, Japan, Thailand, Mexico, Native America, Hawaii, Brazil, Sicily, Iran, Eritrea and a modern day Woman, the collection self- portraiture unifies authentic heritage.
As cultures around the world seek common ground the Intercultural art collection serves as a catalyst for an immersive experience that communicates in a language universally understood.
Intercultural enlightens cultural ideologies, initiates respect for diversity and unifies humanity for a peaceful coexistence worldwide.
Light Painting Photography by Sheinina Raj with Sound Art collaboration by The Crystal Method
Sheinina has been creating the Enlighten Light Painting Photography for over a decade. Inspired by universal energy and her embodiment of it she paints working with various light sources and a multitude of photography techniques. The original 35mm transparency film is a blank canvas that is exposed multiple times as layers of light are captured by her body and its movement with light. In collaboration with sound alchemists The Crystal Method , ENLIGHTEN speaks to the electrified meditative urban trance, a love of sampling and groovy glitches.
AWAKEN, is a unique painting technique that I founded by working with transparent acrylic paint that I tint with pigments. Washes of color are overlaid up to 100 times to create a mesmerizing painting that captures the essence of spirit energy. The rugged edges give a sculptural quality that contrasts with the smooth surface as the painting appears to float on the wall with the gallery canvas. Ones imagination is given the space to wonder into subconscious depths as the painting triggers thoughts and emotions relative to shape and color.
FLOATING SCULPTURES, is inspired from reoccurring dreams. Each piece is an organic shaped high fire ceramic stoneware that takes approximately 2 months to properly cure. Once it has been fired and cooled I paint each piece with glaze brushing on and wiping off many layers. There is a distinct resemblance to the Awaken series as I express a universal spirit energy. A final firing completes the piece as the glaze transforms to glass. Each piece floats off the wall. The ancient medium has found new expression in the contemporary fine art world.