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Interview with Shilpa Gupta


Interview with Shilpa Gupta
Shilpa Gupta (b. 1976)1:14.9, 2011-2012Polyester thread, wood, glass, and brass A.P.½, edition of 3. Solomon R.Guggenheim Museum, New York Guggenheim UBS MAP Purchase Fund, 2012

Looking at your work featured in this exhibition, it appears innocuous and de-materialised, familiar yet alien-like yet one can’t help being drawn to it. What materials do you use and in this instance, how do they influence your work?

I am interested in human perception and how information –visible or invisible – gets transmitted and internalized in everyday life. Therefore I use a wide range of media which can be objects of daily use that sometimes become performances when carried onto streets to video, internet, LCD screens, over which messages get beamed and exchanged. 

Depending on a particular project, the material might vary. For example, I have used soap as brick sized bars that people can take away and used cloth in the size of a typical flag on which stars from all the flags of the world have been stitched on top of each other, or a video work in which 100 different hand drawn maps of India fade in and out into one another.

How was the work made?

It is hand wound with 79.5 miles of thread so had taken several months.

Please share with us your experience growing up in Mumbai in the 1980s and 1990s, and how that has shaped you as an artist? 

In the 80’s, I was a teenager and time felt slow and somewhat dreamy, and in the 1990’s there was great energy post-liberalization, with the city dotted with new goods flowing in from all over. 1990’s was also a time when a country which had chosen to stay secular by its constitution was torn by sectarian violence. It was moment when the city and streets got new names.  It’s difficult to say whether artistic development can be narrowed down to one particular decade, but broadly speaking, couple of factors could have contributed  – ‘energy, friction, claims and new names and the 1990’s suspending the cosmopolitan dream of the 80s!’

What was your reaction when your work was selected for the Guggenheim show? What has the experience been like so far?

It always great to participate in this show which looks at overlapping thoughts from artists within the Asian region.

Does the inclusion of the artwork in the context of the No Country exhibition provide it with additional meaning?

The show places the work in a wider sensibility felt by artists from the region.

Your work has been shown extensively internationally including at Tate Modern and the Centre Pompidou. Has the globalization of the art world affected your practice and career?

The wave of globalization blew into Mumbai in the early 1990s while I was very young and its energy and contradictions one has experienced from early on. One has grown up with billboards advertising objects from far away or objects made locally by those who are from far away. Within a very layered and highly complex and old society like India, globalization is not terribly jostling! Within the art-world context, it felt rather energetic at a certain point, but you do what you have to do as an artist anyways!

How do you think the arts scene in Mumbai will develop in the next 5-10 years?

We experienced a boom of new galleries with the market rise in mid 2000s. While there have been just one or two foundations and museums ’til now, and the government continues to be un-interested in contemporary art, new museums, new foundations and art universities, all privately funded, will be established. Another layer will be created and more new layers formed in response to it.

Thank you.



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