A compelling solo exhibition by Shilpa Gupta showing three projects from her recent body of works. These works have travelled to several prestigious venues internationally and are being shown in Delhi for the first time. The exhibition is framed in two parts consisting of two separate works, with a third work, The Speaking Tree, that will run for the entire duration of the show.
In the first project Gupta explores the unstable correlation between what is presented by the state as the real versus the actual lived experiences of the populace, bringing focus to the chasm between the state as an idea and the state as a real-life organization; and how this misalignment allows for a highly fragile foundation upon which perceptions of identity, nation-hood, mobility and legality is premised. 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.
The second project Gupta deploys diverse artistic forms to address various moments in the everyday lives of peoples living in these ‘borderlands’ and makes visible their state of statelessness, and their plight in the face of the recent political decision to reassign boundaries and citizen-ships. Looking at the lives of people in these Enclaves or Chhittmahals from the perspective of social life, issues of identity and livelihood and coping with the ideologies of nation, she presents a ground view on life and the negotiations one needs to make to survive in these no-man lands. This work is presented by Shilpa Gupta as a sort of trigger to engage audience – students, scholars and creative practitioners – in an extended discussion on this ongoing political debate. This part of the show will involve a series of public programmes that will be organized alongside the exhibition, the schedule of which will be announced soon and also put up on the gallery website.
The Speaking Wall, the interactive sound installation that runs parallel to both these, goes further in exemplifying her concerns around borders and its complex but real impact on the lives of people.