Shilpa Gupta’s successful start to 2013

Kanika Pruthi of Saffronart discusses Shilpa Gupta’s works and her eventful start to 2013

New York: A contemporary Indian new media artist, Shilpa Gupta’s body of work presents a consistent progression in theory and practice that has rightfully earned her a firm spot in the arena of contemporary Indian art. Alumni of the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts in Mumbai, the main crux of her artistic practice is to explore the role and purpose of art- this enquiry taking many forms.

The artists has had a packed start to the year, currently exhibiting at Galerie im Taxispalais in Innsbruck, Austria in a show titled Will we ever be able to mark enough?, curated by Renee Baert and which will subsequently travel to Montreal and Bruges.

Gupta is also showing at Art Basel. Her works at the art fair include Stars on flags of the world with the Mumbai based gallery Chemould Prescott Road, Untitled shown by the Parisian gallery Yvon Lambert and 2651-1 by Dvir Gallery from Tel Aviv, Israel.

In the first half of 2013 alone, she has been featured in various group shows at places including the Bristol Museum & Art Gallery in England, the Singapore Art Museum, the Golden Thread Gallery in Belfast, the Guggenheim in New York, the Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates and a group show at the Faurschou Foundation in Copenhagen.

Gupta is careful in her rhetoric not to delegate categories to identify her work or practice. She prefers to call it ‘everyday art’ given her preoccupation with daily observations and current events. To relegate her works to set categories would be limiting the scope of their discourse and its reception by the viewer. In “Stars on flags of the world” a glass vitrine holds hundreds of steel stars, like those found on national flags from around the world. The piles of stars are reflective of the appropriation of this particular insignia in constructing a national identity and narrative- much like alphabets that are put together to form words. Although seemingly political, her works hold a wider conversation with a willing ear and keen eye.

Stars on Flags of the World, 2012, Mild Steel stars in a vitrine and an etched brass plate, 64x64x97 cm Image Credit: http://artgalleriesintelaviv.com/2012/11/14/shilpa-gupta-at-dvir-gallery/nahum-2-stars-on-flags-of-the-world/

Stars on Flags of the World, 2012, Mild Steel stars in a vitrine and an etched brass plate, 64x64x97 cm
Image Credit: http://artgalleriesintelaviv.com/2012/11/14/shilpa-gupta-at-dvir-gallery/nahum-2-stars-on-flags-of-the-world/

Regardless of the content and narrative of her works, Gupta is clear that her works are not simply ‘political’- a badge often pinned to works of art that comment on political and social scenarios. Her preoccupation is rather centered on the meaning of language. The multi layered contexts of her works not only point at the different tangents that they traverse, but their reception by the viewer also highlight the gamut of popular perception that a work encounters on its completion- the afterlife of the work. The viewers’ response is an integral part of her practice- sometimes evident and at other times concealed.

Shilpa Gupta’s “Threat”, first created in 2009, depicts a stack of bricks simulating a wall. The bricks are cast soap embossed with the word THREAT. The smell is powerfully soapy; it builds as you near the work. The work is performative- the viewer is encouraged to pick and take back a brick, this action depleting the ‘threat’- physically and symbolically. The degenerative and fleeting tactility of a bar of soap makes the viewer think of the emotional response to threat- sudden and strong, yet impermanent and short-lived.

 

Threat, Bathing Soaps, 2008-09,5.9x2.5x1.6 in | 15x6.2x4 cm each soap, 28.5x90x42 in | 72x229x107 cm stack of 4500 soaps Image Credit: http://shilpagupta.com/pages/2009/09threat.htm

Threat, Bathing Soaps, 2008-09,5.9×2.5×1.6 in | 15×6.2×4 cm each soap, 28.5x90x42 in | 72x229x107 cm stack of 4500 soaps
Image Credit: http://shilpagupta.com/pages/2009/09threat.htm

“2652-1”, being shown by the Tel Aviv gallery Dvir at Art Basel, recounts the number of steps the artist took between Al Aksa Mosque, the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. Gupta assembled small photographs that she took while walking between the three sites, resulting in a thin 42-meter long canvas. The work highlights the physical proximity of these geographical locations juxtaposed with the political, religious and ideological schisms that creates separation between them. The process of globalization over the past decades is traced in varying doses in her works. Narratives of identity, nationhood, borders and boundaries and power relations are implicitly imbedded is the coded discourse of her multivalent works. It is this quality that makes her works relevant to a contemporary international audience of varying sensibilities.

 

2652-1, 2010, archival print on canvas, 42 meters x 4 cm Image Credit: http://www.dvirgallery.com/exhibitions/exhibition_desc.asp?exhibitionID=94&exhibitionCatID=4&contentCatID=12&exhibitionPastName=2010

2652-1, 2010, archival print on canvas, 42 meters x 4 cm
Image Credit: http://www.dvirgallery.com/exhibitions/exhibition_de
sc
.asp?exhibitionID=94&exhibitionCatID=4&contentCatID=
12&exhibitionPastName=2010

The artist has recently featured in a two-part film on contemporary Indian art entitled ‘Let the World in’.

Symposium on dOCUMENTA (13), Sharjah and Kochi-Muziris Biennales at SAA-JNU

Manjari Sihare shares details of a symposium on dOCUMENTA (13) and the Sharjah and Kochi-Muziris Biennales hosted by the School of Arts and Aesthetics, JNU and the Goethe Institute, Delhi

New Delhi: The School of Arts and Aesthetics (SAA), JNU, and the Goethe Institut are hosting a day-long symposium exploring key issues in international art exhibitions from the recent past on Friday, April, 19, 2013.

The symposium has been conceptualized by Geeta Kapur and focuses on dOCUMENTA (13) (June – September 2012).  Speakers are invited to address the curatorial concept of this edition. And to address, as well, a peculiar call on dOCUMENTA curators to offer, in the very form of the exhibition, a virtual world-view.

In the second part of the symposium, there will be a discussion on Biennales that are placed within more precarious circumstances. The risks and gains of working with a meager infrastructure, social taboos, uncharted aesthetics, will be brought forward. A substantial debate on the newest, most proximate Kochi-Muziris Biennale (December 2012 – March 2013) is expected. Participants will be invited to discuss, for instance, how this Biennale offered ‘site imaginaries’ in lieu of a predetermined concept; and an exhibitory poetics largely activated by participating artists. Also the role of the State (with reference to India) in supporting large-scale, audience-friendly and ground-breaking exhibition projects such as the Kochi-Muziris Biennale will be put up for scrutiny.

Friday, April 19 2013, 11.00 am – 5.30 pm
Auditorium, School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Session I (11 am to 1 pm)
Chair: Kavita Singh: Introduction and Sum-up

Vision Documenta
Referring to earlier editions, but focusing on dOCUMENTA (13) (June – September 2012), speakers are invited to address the curatorial concept of this edition; and to address, as well, a peculiar call on dOCUMENTA curators to offer, in the very form of the exhibition, a virtual world-view.

• Geeta Kapur: dOCUMENTA aesthetics in the 21st century
• Vidya Shivdas: Brief introduction to the dOCUMENTA project
• Panel: Jeebesh Bagchi, Sonia Khurana, Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Session II (1.45 pm to 3.15 pm)
Chair: Pooja Sood: Introduction and Sum-up

Ideological Readings: from Documenta to Sharjah
A reflection on Biennales placed within newer, more precarious circumstances; the risks and gains of working through untested locations, meager infrastructures, social taboos, uncharted aesthetics.

• Amar Kanwar
• CAMP
• Ravi Agarwal

Session III (3.30 pm to 5.30 pm)
Chair: Geeta Kapur

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012-2013
More than a ‘debate’ or even a measure of success and failure, understanding the conditions of production of the newest, most proximate Kochi-Muziris Biennale (December 2012 – March 2013) is important. Once staged, what are the meanings that accrue from the democratic mix of international and local viewers; with diverse spectatorship, is there a better case for state support of contemporary art? Can publics in relation to large-scale, ground-breaking projects (such as this), incite the art community into a discursive engagement with avantgarde art as a form of contextual combustion?

• Riyas Komu: ‘Against All Odds’; a presentation on the Kochi-Muziris Biennale (with visual documentation)
• Panel: Vivan Sundaram, Sheela Gowda, Subodh Gupta, Gayatri Sinha, Sheba Chhachhi
• Summing Up: Parul Dave Mukherji

For further details please contact: programm2@delhi.goethe.org

Talk on Sharjah Biennale in Mumbai on March 22nd, 2013

Manjari Sihare shares details of a forthcoming public lecture on the Sharjah Biennale in Mumbai organized by the Asia Society

Mumbai: The Sharjah Biennale 11 is currently on until May 13, 2013. The Biennale organized by the Sharjah Foundation is an internationally-acclaimed exposition of contemporary art that takes place every two years in Sharjah, U.A.E., where the works of art spread across the city. Curated by Yuko Hasegawa, this Biennial reassesses and challenges the Westerncentrism of knowledge in modern times and reconsiders the relationship between the Arab world, Asia, and the Far East, through North Africa and Latin America.  The exhibition features work by more than 100 artists, architects, filmmakers, musicians and performers, including Indian participants Amar Kanwar, Raqs Media Collective, Studio Mumbai, and CAMP; and foreign artists Francis Alÿs, Matthew Barney, Olafur Eliasson, Yang Fudong, Ernesto Neto, Elizabeth Peyton, Anri Sala, and Wael Shawky.

For those who cannot make it to the Biennale, this public lecture (details below) is a goodopportunity to learn about this international exposition.

Sharjah Biennial 11
Re:emerge –Towards a New Cultural Cartography

Speakers:
Sheikha Hoor Al-Qasimi
, President and Director, Sharjah Art Foundation
Judith Greer, Associate Director of International Programmes, Sharjah Art Foundation
Moderator:
Girish Shahane,
writer and curator

Friday, 22 March 2013, 06:30 – 8:00 pm.

Registration begins at 6:00pm  Venue: Auditorium, National Gallery of Modern Art, Sir Cowasji Jahangir Public HallM G Road, Fort Mumbai – 400032    

RSVP REQUIRED: asiasociety@asiasociety.org.in  (priority will be given to Asia Society members)

Information about the speakers:

Hoor Al-Qasimi, President of the Sharjah Art Foundation, is a practicing artist who received her BFA from the Slade School of Fine Art, London (2002), a Diploma in Painting from the Royal Academy of Arts (2005) and an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London (2008). She is on the Board of Directors of MoMA PS1, New York and Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, and was on the curatorial selection committee for the 2012 Berlin Biennial. Her recent curatorial projects include ‘Drift’ — an exploration of urban and suburban landscapes (2011), and the upcoming ‘In Spite of it All’ (2012). A solo exhibition of her photographic work ‘Off Road’ opened recently at the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno.

Judith Greer is the Associate Director of International Programmes for Sharjah Art Foundation. Greer previously worked as International Director at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Co-author of Owning Art: The Contemporary Art Collector’s Handbook (2006), she lectures internationally on the topics of collecting, arts patronage and the Middle East art and cultural world. A long-serving trustee of Artangel, UK, she was a juror for the 2007 Max Mara Prize for Women Artists and, in 2009, was on the jury for the Dubai-based Sheikha Manal Foundation Prize for young Emirati artists.

Girish Shahane has degrees in English literature from Elphinstone College, Bombay University and Oxford University. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. He was editor and later consulting editor of Art India magazine. He has written on visual art, film and cultural politics for leading publications, and contributed columns to Time Out and Yahoo! India. He has lectured at institutions like the NGMA and NCPA in Bombay, the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, the Tate Modern in London, and the Art Institute of Chicago, and is on the faculty of art history courses run by Jnanapravaha and Bhau Daji Lad Museum. Exhibitions curated by him include The Presence of the Past (NCPA, Bombay, 1998); Art / Technology (Max Mueller Bhavan Gallery, Bombay, 2000); Legacy: A-vanguard (Gallery Threshold, Delhi, 2010); and Home Spun (Devi Art Foundation, Gurgaon, 2011).

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