How artist Shilpa Gupta is giving the word back its freedom

By Avantika Bhuyan | Mint Lounge

The power of the word has resonated through history. Now For, In Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit, an immersive multi-channel installation on show within the cavernous space of the Barbican’s  Curve, London, brings it up front and centre stage. It features 100 microphones suspended above a 100 metal spikes, each piercing a page inscribed with a fragmented verse of poetry by a poet incarcerated for their work, writings, or beliefs. In this soundscape, first created between 2017-18, multidisciplinary artist Shilpa Gupta has included work by poets such as Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Irina Ratushinskaya and Nesimi, who were imprisoned or worse for their ideas. Her picks cover a range of languages, from Arabic, Azeri, English and Chinese to Hindi and Spanish.

 “Each microphone utters verses of poetry echoed by a chorus of its ninety-nine counterparts, as if standing together in solidarity… . Gupta’s haunting installation highlights the fragility and vulnerability of one’s right to personal expression whilst raising urgent questions of free expression, censorship, confinement and resistance,” mentions the gallery note. This powerful work is part of Gupta’s first major solo exhibition in London, titled Sun At Night, which will be on view till 6 February.
17 October 2021