Born in New Delhi in 1953, photographer Sunil Gupta grew up in Montreal, before studying photography in New York and establishing himself as an artist working between London and Delhi. His work represents a form of autobiographical photography that is both political and intimate, examining issues of race and homosexuality. It addresses being a gay Indian man in Europe living within and between very different cultures, in a form of 'exile'. Continuing its interest in the theme of migration and subjective migrant narratives, Belfast Exposed is pleased to present work from 2 significant bodies of work by Sunil Gupta: Homelands and Tales of a City.
The Homelands series was made between 2001 and 2003 with support from the AHRB and the University of Southampton. The work was produced in Northern India, Montreal, New York and London (all places where Gupta has lived). It conveys the photographic struggle to visualize complex relationships and identities that belie surface appearances of the Eastern landscapes Gupta inherited, and revisited frequently, and the Western landscape he then inhabited. This is communicated via photographic diptychs that feature colourful imagery of the East on the left and Western cityscapes on the right.
'Initial experiments in binary oppositions ' the West versus India, inside versus outside ' seemed formulaic. In the end, the East/West theme continued but the other parameters became more spontaneous and intuitive. The choices of each image then became more flexible, sometimes governed by formal concerns of colour and line, sometimes of specific information in the pictures. What I wanted in the end was a sense of the landscape of these different worlds' Sunil Gupta, from Pictures From Here, Chris Boot Ltd, 2003
Tales of a City was made in 2004 as part of a piece of research into a number of historical sites in Delhi: The Red Fort, Shahjahanabad, the Roshanara Gardens and Jahanara'a Tomb, Nizamuddin. The work compiles a set of critical documentary photographs based on observations of the contemporary function of these sites as tourist and leisure phenomena. It is interesting to think of Gupta'a approach to the city of Delhi in relation to how one might 'represent' a city like Belfast, which is made up of many sites with contested histories either experiencing noticeable neglect or undergoing development into tourist phenomena.