Shilpa Gupta: the artist bringing silenced poets back to life

By Andrew Dickson | The Guardian

In a disused fire station in Tollcross, Edinburgh, Shilpa Gupta stands, head cocked, beneath a row of speakers strung from the ceiling. There is a crackle, and a burst of noise reverberates through the space: a man’s voice, intoning the words “without revolution, there can be no proper peace”. As the voice dies away, a gentle susurration begins, like the distant clattering of bird’s wings. It resolves into a chorus of whispering voices. They seem to be coming from everywhere.

Suddenly, there is a loud mechanical squeal: across the room, a technician is attaching something to the wall with an electric screwdriver. Gupta wrinkles her nose. “Yes, that one is not planned.”

 You don’t have to go far at this year’s Edinburgh art festival to encounter the sorrows of the modern world. In a former kirk just off the Royal Mile, the Scottish artists Ross Birrell and David Harding are exhibiting a film that repurposes Henryk Gorécki’s orchestral lament for the Holocaust, sung by refugees. Stroll into the National Gallery on the Mound and there, among the Titians and Tintorettos, you come face to face with a monumental Jenny Saville painting depicting the limp body of a Syrian child.

25 July 2018