Shilpa Gupta works with the everyday – be it found objects, sound, interactive installation or performance, using diverse media and methods to unravel our assumptions. Her work reveals how human actions are subject to a range of external and internal biddings, from socio-political constructs to technology, or the play of the human mind.
WeAreCloserThanYouEverImagined (2020), the central work in the exhibition, takes the form of a motion flapboard. Recalling devices that normally show arrival and departure schedules at transitory spaces such as airports or railway stations, the work replaces precise information such as times or locations with poetic phrases that evoke ideas around loss, power and truth. As the split-flap display changes and rotates, new words and fragments of prose appear, offering poignant and timely reflections that invite the viewer to question both the instability and the political weight of language and how we often use disconnected words and phrases to define our identity and states of being.
With her ongoing interest in the dynamics of spatial and conceptual boundaries, in this body of work created during the unexpected lockdowns due to the global pandemic, Gupta evokes the tension we experience in our relationships with the outside world. A rotating knife on a pedestal, Untitled (From 6,10.3, 2 series) (2021) is a sensory object that explores the frenzy of immobility – where ‘6’ refers to the minimum social distance to be maintained in feet, ‘10.3’ refers to the same distance as measured by Gupta’s palm and ‘2’ is its conversion into metres. This work converses with Untitled (2020–21), another kinetic installation that explores time, slowness and landscape through a borderland river stone and a bulb. Also on view will be a set of photographs taken of urban areas, the prints altered by the artist to create a gaping absence at the heart of the image.
Shilpa Gupta’s first major solo UK institutional exhibition Sun at Night is on view at The Curve, Barbican Centre, London until 6 February 2022.
Gupta also has solo presentations at Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Germany, until 21 January 2022 and Dallas Contemporary, Texas, until 13 February 2022.
Shilpa Gupta (b.1976 Mumbai, India) lives and works in Mumbai. Studied sculpture at the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts 1992–1997. Solo exhibitions include The Curve Gallery, Barbican Centre, London (2021), Dallas Contemporary (2021), Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2021), Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp (2021), Ishara Foundation, Dubai (two person show) (2019), Voorlinden Museum and Gardens, Wassenaar (2018), Yarat Contemporary Art Centre, Baku (2018), Kiosk, Ghent (2017), Bielefelder Kunstverein, Bielefeld (2017) and La synagogue de Delme Contemporary Art Centre (2017). Gupta also presented a solo project at ‘My East is Your West’, a two-person joint India-Pakistan exhibition, by the Gujral Foundation in Venice in 2015.