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Shilpa Gupta

Indian Contemporary Artist
Born 1976, Mumbai
Lives and works in Mumbai

Shilpa Gupta uses new media art like interactive video, websites, objects, photographs, sound and public performances to probe and dramatize the themes of borders (inner and outer-geographical and interpersonal),desire, belief, surveillance and militarisation.



Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture), Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts, Mumbai


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Shilpa Gupta's works appear in varied spaces-from museums to the streets

Shilpa Gupta is interested in the relationship between the object and the viewer, and in the artwork moving away with the viewer and entering their own spaces of the home where other members of the family can view it. Besides showing in Indian as well as international galleries, public/state run institutions or contexts, Gupta has also explored public spaces such as streets, shops, trains and other privately run institutions.

Interactive performance on the street as a part of her work Blame, 2002-04.

Many of Shilpa Gupta's works rely on participation from viewers and challenged to extend their meaning

Shilpa Gupta’s work blurs the boundary between the artist, the viewer and the artwork, and this shared responsibility alters the perception of the work. For her, the artwork is not what the artist creates and thinks but something that facilitates an interaction between the audience and the artist. The viewer is not passive; instead becomes an active agent in the process of creating meaning.
In 100 Hand-drawn Maps of India, 2007–2008, Gupta asked volunteers to sketch outlines of the country from memory and displayed the incongruous results, thus underscoring the crowd sourced nature of her works. Shilpa Gupta confronted the customers at a bookstore offering them kidneys made of sugar and gelatine allowing them to choose the colour, size and the trade route of the kidney they wish to purchase as part of her interactive installation Your Kidney Supermarket, 2002-03.

Shilpa Gupta, 100 Hand drawn Maps of India, 2007-08, still from a single channel video projection, 3 minutes 42 seconds video loop, 22.2 x 17”.

Shilpa Gupta, Your Kidney Supermarket, 2002-03, video and interactive installation.

Synthesises her encounters and interactions with other artists and scholars into her practice

The Le Laboratoire experience gave Gupta a chance to be in direct conversation with a psychologist (Mahazarin Banaji), a philosopher and linguist (Noam Chomsky) about prejudice and fear and how much of this functions subconsciously. This intensive encounter informed Shilpa Gupta’s works like Untitled, 2008-09, flapboard, and the audio for Singing Cloud, 2008-09.Project Aar Par was born during a Khoj residency where Gupta met Pakistani artist Huma Mulji, and created a dialogue between visual artists of the two countries. Blame, 2002-04, was started as a poster under this project which later turned into Gupta selling old bottles of simulated blood at railway stations and in trains with labels that read “I blame you for what you cannot control— your religion, your nationality.”
Gupta has also designed the stage for Opera Nixon held at Paris’s iconic 150 year old Theatre-Du-Chatele in 2012 winning international accolades for her maiden foray into set design.

One of Shilpa Gupta’s set designs for Opera Nixon at Theatre-Du-Chatele in 2012.

Shilpa Gupta, Singing Cloud, 2008-09, object built with thousands of microphones with 48 multi-channel audio, 9 minutes 30 seconds audio loop, 180 x 24 x 60”.

Detail of the bottles filled with simulated blood as a part of Blame, 2002-04.

Uses a language that is closely related to the quintessential design of media and technology

As an artist, Shilpa Gupta is interested in showing work in spaces where there is an audience besides the one coming to a private art gallery. In order to reach out to a larger audience, she deliberately uses visual codes and interface which the audience is familiar and at ease with. Gupta believes that media work is more accessible and democratic- they can be mass produced, are easily transportable and can be seen and shared by several people. By doing so, Gupta inevitably challenges the capitalist structure of the art world that emphasises uniqueness and not-shared nature of the art work.

Shilpa gupta,, 2003, Internet, commission by Tate Online

Works are personal exploring issues which are points of anxiety or conflict for everyone

Gupta’s works engages with the political and cultural world around her thereby taking upon the role of an art activist of sorts. In the aftermath of the Gujarat pogrom, the artist distributed bottles of blood on crowded local trains asking people to separate blood by religion or race. Cloth strips with menstrual blood was mounted against a wall as a part of a 2001 installation by the artist countering taboos against woman’s body.

Several of her works are concerned with issue of borders, security and surveillance. In an untitled work from 2005–06, the artist made a flag of yellow police tape reading: “There is no border here”, addressing the impossibility of creating geographical differences in the face of deep cultural or human links. In Half Widows, 2008, Gupta addresses the emotional and social ruptures of war whereby women of Kashmir whose husbands have gone missing are not culturally authorized to even weep or mourn for they live in oblivion about their spouse’s condition. In Turner Road, 2008, a series of photographs of security guards with their faces blurred has a sound chip inserted into them which plays the mundane everyday noise encountered on the street.

Shilpa Gupta, Untitled, 2001, instruction manual in vitrine, cloth pieces stained with menstrual blood, 2 videos on monitors, process based. Still from a colour video.

Shilpa Gupta, Untitled (There is No Border Here), 2005-06, wall drawing with self adhesive tapes, 118 x 118”.

Shilpa Gupta, Half Widows, 2008, diasec mounted photograph, 43.5 x 98”.

Shilpa Gupta, Turner Road, 2008, photographs with sound, 11.8 x 9.2 x 1.5”.