from the Internet
Shilpa Gupta received her training in art at the Sir J.J. School of Art in her hometown of Mumbai and turned to the public early, having her first exhibition in a gallery in 1996 at the age of 20. Since then her works have been shown in many exhibitions, not only in India but also internationally, on various continents, in places like Toronto and Auckland, Sydney, Peking, Aix-en-Provence, Manchester, London and the 4th International Festival of young independent artists in Slovenia.
If so inclined, one could say that she is a concept artist, but such a generalisation would hardly be fair. What her works have in common with those of concept-art is the fact that viewers are invited to choose their own personal attitudes towards them. It is this which makes the works artistically interesting.
In one of Gupta's video-films for instance, she is seen shaving her whole body, and round the monitor, there are star-shaped arrangements of hair. Viewers thus witnesses a very intimate act and slip into the role of voyeurs. This leads to an ambivalent situation, since on the one hand the film's iconography is shown openly to the public and on the other hand is so intimate that viewers tend to shy away, wary of being drawn into intimacy with a stranger. Hence this video-film makes them rather neurotic: on the one hand there is candour and seduction, on the other hand shyness and shame. After awhile one comes to realise that a main theme of these works is the adoption of a personal standpoint.
The questioning of
social behaviour and role-models is one of Gupta's aims. Another is to
reach out to folk otherwise outside the domain of art. This has consequences
in her choice of location. The performance 'Blame', for instance, took
place in coaches of trains in a suburb of Mombai. On another occasion,
together with Huma Mulji, she organised an action (aar paar) in which
art posters were pasted onto commercial billboards in India and Pakistan.
Unusual too was the Internet project www.sentiment-express.com. Users
were able to use an interactive installation to record love-poems, which
were then sent on anonymously to addressees. Shilpa Gupta, one of the
founding members of the art society Open Circle, lives and works in Mumbai.