Vadehra Art Gallery is delighted to welcome the New Year with a compelling exhibition by Shilpa Gupta showing installations made during the last five years. Critically acclaimed, these works have traveled to several prestigious venues internationally and are being shown in Delhi for the first time.
Placed inside and outside the gallery, the three projects explore notions of location and belonging vis a vis the nation state. Through multiple narratives, the works look at 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 looks 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 an approximate 51,000 people. Legislation has been passed dismantling the enclaves and on 7 May 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 30 June 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 needed 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, the Berlin Biennale 2013, the Dhaka Arts Summit 2014 and as part of My East is Your West shared exhibit mounted by The Gujral Foundation, during the Venice Biennale 2015.
Solo show by Shilpa Gupta. Open to Public: 16 January – 22 February 2016| Monday to Saturday | 11 am – 7 pm.
Venue: Vadehra Art Gallery, D-53, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110024