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Artist Profile3
Shilpa Gupta is known for expressing her views on contemporary issues via cutting-edge technology
Essentially a new media artist, Shilpa Gupta considers the ‘web’ an indispensable and inseparable element of contemporary existence. The artist, consequentially, prefers varied forms of cutting-edge technology as the vehicles for her expression and interactions with viewers.

Her mesmerizing art practice involves interactive websites, video, gallery environments and public performances to probe and examine subversively themes like consumer culture, militarism, human rights abuse and exploitation of labor.

Although her creations are developed largely with aid of technology, their significance is located in their candid communication on the various issues, which tend to shape the contemporary life, particularly the lives of young adults, cutting across boundaries.

She has attained a global outlook thanks to her extensive travel through international residency programs, comprising the Unesco-Aschberg residency at CYPRES, Aix en Provence, France, and the Alchemy workshop by ANAT, Brisbane, Australia. Born in 1976 in Mumbai, the artist did her B.F.A. (Sculpture) from Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts, Mumbai (1992-1997). She has won the Transmediale 2004 Award apart from Berlin Sanskriti Prathisthan Award, New Delhi International Artist of the Year, and South Asian Visual Artists Collective, Canada.

Among her selected solo exhibitions are Recent Works, Apeejay Media Gallery, New Delhi (2007); Recent Works, Sakshi Gallery, Mumbai (2007); Bose Pacia Gallery, New York (2006); Provisions Library, Resource Center for Activism and Arts, Washington DC (2005); 'Your Kidney Supermarket', Oxford Bookstore, Mumbai (2004), and 'Blessed', Net art Commission from Tate Online (2003) among others.

Her works were featured in the “Best of Discovery” at the ShContemporary 2007 segment, featuring the creations by a new generation of Asian artists, positioning them into the realm of the global contemporary art system. The ShContemporary included brightest of artists from around the Asian continent with a strong and deliberate positioning of talent from Asia in the international market.

Shilpa Gupta’s work on view was an interactive video projection in which the screen initiates a surreal game between the visitor and the projected image. Audience’s shadows become an active part of the projection (via live camera capture) while they are overlapping with the ready-made shadow figures emerging from the projection. As the sounds of water rise, a figure emerges, doubles up and feeds itself. While the viewer looks, it reappears from the side and dives inside the viewer’s body, only to start walking out of it.

The shadows multiply; their walks becomes brisk, intense, and turns into an aggressive march over sounds of songs, chimes, and bells that overlap to grow louder and louder, transforming and intense confrontational chaos ensues. Silence falls. At this time, the figure jumps from the top onto the viewer’s head and the latter tries to dodge and jump in real, physical space; the absurdity is magnified by the apparent absence of the figure in reality.

In fact, this has been a recurring theme for her. The artist has stated in an interview: “I have always been interested in the role as well as function of art and hence its relationship with the viewer. On entering this life-size interactive video projection, the viewer becomes part of it via his/her shadow generated by livecapture technology and becomes an integral part of the narrative, making it move forward. This inter-relationship between the viewer, the artwork and the shared social space, all becoming an infinite loop, is what prompted the shift towards this series of video projections.”

A new series of her works BlindStars was just on view at BodhiBerlin. Elaborating on her art practice, a curatorial note stated: “The crossover between facilitation, production, performance, and gallery practice creates a rich mix that helps render the agonizing cosmopolis of cultural exchange and political discourse. Triggering such mechanisms and positions, Gupta allows us to evaluate the lived and perceived experiences of our realities by bringing together a number of contradictions in the fabric of contemporary life and our notions of freedom.”

Her works tend to question this contradictory position in both their construction and in their context. In creating a world as her ambition, she helps us to manage the necessary labor in looking at and measuring a strategic globalization based on disruption, rather than focusing on a crisis state where consumerism seems to be the only measurable form of change.

Broadly, the artist in her works touches upon varied current, universal issues related to globalization, terrorism, war, environmental degradation, intolerance as well as sensitive gender politics. The spirit of activism is essentially a driving force for many of her expressions/ observations as she ‘visually vocalizes’ her deeply felt concerns.