Asia Art Archive (AAA) presents a new exhibition on Mrinalini Mukherjee (1949–2015), one of the most prominent sculptors in India known for her experimentation with form and materiality over her forty-year practice. Titled “mould the wing to match the photograph, the exhibition stages an encounter between her hemp fibre sculpture, Pari (1986), and materials from her personal archive, showcased for the first time in Hong Kong. The exhibition is open to the public at Asia Art Archive’s CCG Library from 20 September 2023 to 29 February 2024. In conjunction with the exhibition, a series of programmes, including curator-led guided tours, talks, workshops, and performances, will be available to the public free of charge. 

Image: Mrinalini Mukherjee, <i>Pari</i> (Nymph), 1986, dyed hemp, 220 x 83 x 42 cm. Courtesy of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. Photo: South Ho.
Image: Mrinalini Mukherjee, Pari (Nymph), 1986, dyed hemp, 220 x 83 x 42 cm. Courtesy of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi. Photo: South Ho.

“mould the wing to match the photograph draws on the archive of Mrinalini Mukherjee and emphasises how the archive actively reconfigures the understanding and experience of Mukherjee’s artwork. The Mrinalini Mukherjee Archive was launched in 2022 after two years of research and digitisation. The archive comprises over 2,344 records and documents the career of Mrinalini Mukherjee, who persistently challenged existing norms of sculptural practice from the 1970s onwards. Highlights of the collection include extensive photo-documentation of her sculptural works and installation experiments that illuminate the underlying processes of her practice, and feature a set of highly codified installation instructions. 

The exhibition opens with Mrinalini Mukherjee’s 1986 sculpture Pari (loosely meaning “nymph”), foregrounding her intricate knotting technique using organic hemp fibres. A series of contact sheets follow to juxtapose the sculpture, revealing how she meticulously reassessed the form of her works through photography.   

The second section invites another encounter of Mukherjee’s works through an extensive selection of photographs of artworks and installation instructions. Carefully annotated and measured to the centimetre, these installation instructions complicate the sense of organicity and intuitiveness in Mukherjee’s sculptures, and demonstrate the artist’s desire for precision and control. Also featured in this section are reproductions of numerous 35mm slides from the artist’s archive. Disorderly and excessive, these slides are photographic records of Mukherjee’s sculptures in colour, offering a miniaturised and intimate engagement with her sizeable and auratic works. 

Image: Detail of reproductions of 35mm slides from Mukherjee’s personal archive, <i>“mould the wing to match the photograph,”</i> Asia Art Archive, 2023. Photo: South Ho.
Image: Detail of reproductions of 35mm slides from Mukherjee’s personal archive, “mould the wing to match the photograph,” Asia Art Archive, 2023. Photo: South Ho.

The final section of the exhibition contains images from Mukherjee’s extensive travels across India and beyond, opening up references or starting points for her artworks. The distinct patterns that emerge from these images, such as the dancing body, banyan roots overtaking historical ruins, and architectural arches, are speculated to have influenced the compositions of Mukherjee’s work.  

The title of the exhibition, “mould the wing to match the photograph, is borrowed from Mukherjee’s installation instructions, and evokes the kind of back-and-forth that occurs between an artwork and the reproducible digitised archive. In this imperative statement, Mukherjee marked her precise vision, and yet every time the artwork, and now, the archive, are circulated and presented, they are moulded and shaped anew.  

A series of public programmes will be held from September 2023 to February 2024, bringing together artists and cultural practitioners to delve into the lingering threads in the Mukherjee Archive, including a performance by Hong Kong–based artist Movana Chen, a somatic movement workshop by dancer and educator David Leung, and a workshop by textile specialist Paola Sinisterra, as well as talks with researchers specialising in archiving and documentation. A series of curator-led exhibition tours will be open to the public with registration from 20 to 22 September 2023. 

“mould the wing to match the photograph is generously supported by Mimi Brown & Alp Erçil, and Virginia & Wellington Yee. The Mrinalini Mukherjee Archive was made possible with the support of the Mrinalini Mukherjee Foundation. We would like to extend our gratitude to the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, New Delhi, for loaning us Pari (1986) for this exhibition. 


mould the wing to match the photograph”: The Mrinalini Mukherjee Archive 

Location: CCG Library, Asia Art Archive, 11/F Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong 

Date: 20 Sep 2023–29 Feb 2024 (Mon–Sat, 10am–6pm) 

See more information on the exhibtion and related programmes here.