Shilpa GUPTA

  • 〈Song of the Ground〉,2017, mechanical installation with borderland river stones. 79×22×18 cm
    Courtesy of the artist and GALLERIA CONTINUA, San Gimignano/Beijing/Les Moulins/Habana. Photo by Tom Callemin Commissioned by Bi - elefelder Kunstverein,

Song of the Ground

In Song of the Ground, what is first encountered is a slow repetitive sound as two stones come together as if clapping in  rhythm. These stones have been collected by the artist around the Teesta river in the border areas where   the waters flow between India and Bangladesh. It is here that the world’s longest fence is being built by India, almost encircling its neighbour Bangladesh. However, daily life in the borderland belie state intentions and the flow of people and goods persist, prompted by historical and social affinities, geographical continuities  and economic imperatives. This  illegal trade is said to be three times the legal trade. In this  artwork, the stones come together as if subversively applauding transgression, having been silent witnesses to the visible and invisible movements on either side of the fence. Like two arms clapping their hands in protest, the rhythm echoes through the exhibition space, recalling the life forces of nature in motion.  Like the rivers that carry these stones, this song of the ground is also a song of freedom.

About the Artist

Born in 1976, lives and works in Mumbai, India where she has studied sculpture at the Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts from 1992 to 1997. She had solo shows at Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Arnolfini in Bristol, OK in Linz, Museum voor Moderne Kunst Arnhem and Lalit Kala Akademi in New Delhi. She presented a solo project at My East is Your West, a two-person joint India-Pakistan exhibition, by the Gujral Foundation in Venice in 2015.
Shilpa Gupta has participated in Berlin Biennale (2014), Younger Than Jesus Triennial (New Museum, New York, 2009), Sharjah Biennial (2013), Lyon Biennale (2009), Gwangju Biennale (2008), Yokohama Triennale (2008) and Liverpool Biennial (2006). In 2017, she participated in Gothenburg Biennial curated by Nav Haq which was titled after her light work WheredoIendandyoubegin. She designed the book ‘dates.sites: Project Cinema City Bombay/Mumbai’, edited by Madhusree Dutta, in 2012. Gupta has co-curated ‘Crossovers & Rewrites: Borders over Asia’ at World Social Forum, Porto Alegre in 2005 and ‘Aar Paar’, a public art exchange project between India and Pakistan from 2002-2006. In 2018, she installed We change each other, an outdoor light work in her neighbourhood on Carter Road and had solo shows at YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku and Voorlinden Museum and Gardens, Wassenaar.