WORK by SHILPA GUPTA
Shilpa’s work interrogates boundaries and borders that inform mainstream narratives of the nation. ‘Map Tracings’ are outlines of maps made up of metal tubing, twisted to form three-dimensional linear sculptures. They render the familiar outlines of nation-states into peculiar forms, using shadow and illusion across architectural space to produce an oscillation between recognition and perplexity.
Map Tracing #1-N (2012 – Ongoing)
A series that began in 2012 with the India map, the artwork is adapted to each exhibition site, according to the country in which it is exhibited. As Nada Raza writes,’Depending on the viewers’ movements and their position in the space, the well-known shape becomes a strange line that literally twists our vision and reminds us that the nation is an artificial construct, and what it maps first and foremost is the way it imagines itself.’
The 'Drawings Made In Dark' series focuses on the Bengal borderlands. Through line and text, Shilpa traces the clandestine routes and midnight goods that flow across national boundaries. These ongoing phenomena are despite the near completion of the world’s longest border fence between India and Bangladesh.
Untitled (Drawings Made In Dark) (2015)
Shilpa’s linear diagrams on paper complement the wire map of Indian and Bangladesh borders while simultaneously dramatising bureaucratic and statist hurdles in the daily lives of people whose livelihood depends on movement, relations, flow and precarious crossings
A nation is an artificial construct, and what it maps first and foremost is the way it is imagined and congealed by the interests of its political elites. The boundaries that define people of the soil as against a diaspora population are equally artificial. Such arguments also apply to hegemonic discourses of heritage moulded to the artificiality of national boundaries. Yet these boundaries pose a real predicament to those people living near and moving across borders as well as the appreciation of the vastness of their shared heritage across demarcated lands.