New Delhi art. Vadehra Art Gallery presents a compelling new exhibition by Shilpa Gupta showing recent installations made during the last five years. Critically acclaimed, these works have travelled to several prestigious venues internationally and are being shown in Delhi for the first time.
New Delhi art. Placed within and outside the architecture of the gallery, the three projects explore notions of location and belonging vis a vis the nation state. Through multiple narratives, interstices of memory and official and unofficial registers, the works look the historical violence embedded upon the drawing of lines on a map through communities which have had shared histories.
In the Untitled project made in 2014-15, a range of works in diverse media of photography, video, drawings, text based pieces and installation, investigate human condition and the transitory, informal and illicit flows of objects and people that trespass national borders, security infrastructure, legislation and economic barriers moving between India and Bangladesh. A shredded Dhakai Jamdani sari, crushed bone china, or a shirt collar make their way into the installation, compelling us to explore the unstable correlation between what is presented by the state as the real versus the actual lived experiences of the populace. The idea of borders, as an imaginary line legalized by the state as a definition of itself, is ruptured by Gupta’s extensively researched work, which look at obscured identities of objects and persons moving across these borders. The border then becomes a part of a larger zone or ‘borderland’ that at once constructs and subverts the nation.
In another Untitled project from 2013, the focus is on chhitmahals / enclaves, also a unique feature of the Bengal borderlands. There are approximately 111 Indian and 51 Bangladeshi chhitmahals, which have on record an approximate 51,000 people. Legislations have been passed dismantling the enclaves recently – on May 7, 2015 the revised Land Boundary Agreement, which was initially proposed in 1974, was ratified. The physical exchange of the enclaves is currently on and will be implemented fully by June 30, 2016.
Via interviews, incised photographs, drawings made from a prohibited cough syrup and phantasmic engravings on a stone post, Gupta deals with the sense of ambiguity, perpetual statelessness, and entrapment experienced by those who have been living in the enclaves – in one country surrounded by another country. Most of the literature on enclaves remains highly statist and the artworks delve into the other end of the spectrum looking at social life, identity, or rather the lack of it, and everyday mobility. At a time when the exchange of enclaves is ongoing on the ground, Gupta’s project which provides a ground view on life and the negotiations one needs to survive in these no-man lands.
The Speaking Wall, the interactive sound installation, goes further in exemplifying her concerns around processes of map making and its complex but real impact on the lives of people.
The artworks have been shown at Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Berlin Biennale 2013, My East is Your West exhibition, The Gujral Foundation, during the Venice Biennale 2015 and Dhaka Art Summit 2014. We look forward to hosting them for audiences in Delhi.
New Delhi Art. New Exhibition by Shilpa Gupta at Vadehra Art Gallery. 25 January – 22 February 2016.
About the artist:
Shilpa Gupta (b.1976) lives and works in Mumbai, India, where she studied sculpture at the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts from 1992 to 1997. The artist has had solo exhibitions in Asia, Europe and the United States, in recent years including: Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati; Museum voor Moderne Kunst, Arnhem; MAAP Space, Brisbane; Arnolfini, Bristol; the OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz.
Her work has been shown at Tate Modern, London, Guggenheim Museum, New York, Louisiana Museum, Humlebæk, Mori Museum, Tokyo, Centre Pompidou, Paris and the Kiran Nadar Museum and the Devi Art Foundation in New Delhi. Gupta has taken part in the New Museum Triennale, New York; the Lyon Biennale, 2007; the Biennale of Gwangju, 2008; the Triennale of Yokohama, 2008; the Biennale of Liverpool, 2006; and more recently the Biennale of Sharjah, 2013; the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, 2014; Havana Biennial, 2015 and Echigo- Tsumari Art Triennale in Japan, 2015.
From 2002-2006 Gupta co-facilitated Aar Paar, a public art exchange project between India and Pakistan, with Lahore-based artist Huma Mulji. Shilpa Gupta’s last solo exhibition with Vadehra Art Gallery was in 2009 at the Lalit Kala Akademi. A comprehensive publication Shilpa Gupta, edited by Nancy Adajania, was jointly published by Vadehra Art Gallery and Prestel in 2010.