2015 - Ongoing
INTERCULTURAL is a conceptually rigorous, painstakingly detailed portfolio exploring conventions of ethnographic perceptions through a series of costumed self-portraiture featuring Sheinina Lolita Raj arrayed in the traditional authentic finery of various regions and nations — Fiji, India, Pakistan, Japan, Thailand, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Eritrea, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi-Arabia, Iran, Armenia, Mexico, Hawaii, First Nation Navajo, Guatemala, North American Inuit, Brazil, Sicily, Palestine and Israel.
Raj’s own intercultural heritage and intercontinental family history first inspired her to embark on this serial self-transformation, in which her 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 similarities are celebrated equally, and attention to detail moves the story forward. In these images, the spectator sees the artist more profoundly and inevitably they come to see themselves as well.
As cultures around the world seek common ground the touring art collection Intercultural serves a purpose for each exhibition to set fourth a cultural movement unifying humanity.
The touring art collection Intercultural is inspired by a purpose for each exhibition to serve as an immersive art experience uniting humanity in a cultural movement 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 if she followed him to his ship. 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.
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 I was born in the UK my father heeded the call for the promised land of Canada my when I was a child, hopeful that I would enjoy a peaceful life free of prejudices.
Although, the truth is you cannot run from racism.
In honor of cultural diversity, I created Intercultural.
As cultures around the world seek common ground the Intercultural exhibition serves as an immersive vision and sound art experience unifying humanity.