Shilpa Gupta | Galleria Continua
While training in sculpture, the Indian artist began to work experimentally with a wide range of media, including video, photography and interactive mixed media installations. Mid 2000’s Gupta already occupied a prominent position on the international art scene. The show prepared by the artist for the former cinema-theatre of San Gimignano includes a large number of works produced specially for the occasion – objects, images, interactive sound installation – and some recent works. Technology for Gupta is a kind of extension of everyday reality, a narrative tool but also a subject/object of inquiry. The artist is interested in human perception, in how information, either visible or invisible, is transmitted and interiorized in daily life. Constantly drawn by the definition of objects and by mechanisms for identifying places, people and experiences, Gupta explores the zones in which these definitions acquire form, whether this concerns borderlines, labels or notions of censorship or security. Her work involves the viewer, creating intimacy and setting up an intense and never didactic dialogue. Gupta asked a hundred people to draw from memory a map of the place where they live. This gave rise to 100 Hand Drawn Maps, a work with intimate and delicate features that reflects on the theme of belonging, on the complexity of the concept of the frontier – real, imaginary, political, geographical – but also on the power exercised by institutional forces through cartography. The tryst with the uncontainable edge of a nation is explored in many other works in the show, for instance in Untitled 2014, a set of six pieces of hand woven fabric ranging in size from A0 to A5. “I use incremental measurements”, the artist explains, “because we surround ourselves with measures, say a simple sheet of ‘A4’ paper that we slip into a printer”. Precise factual data, proportional relations are accompanied in Shilpa Gupta’s work by deliberately concealed notions – the names of the two nations in this case – serving as a warning that the passage of time just like the movements of people render vain any attempt to schematize or to label. The sound installation Speaking Wall speaks of a border drawn in sand that is constantly shifted by wind and rain. Listener and narrating voice enter into contact through a poetic monologue on borders, not just geopolitical but also strictly pertaining to the space of the installation, triggering a series of reflections on the sense of distance, on surveillance and on bureaucracy. Gupta recounts the story of a world that is constantly in search of identity and in constant transformation. The artist gathered stories of people who, for various reasons, be it fear of political persecution, social prejudice, personal aspiration or embarassment, decided, at a certain point in their lives, to change their surname.