YARAT presents exhibition by Indian artist Shilpa Gupta

YARAT Contemporary Art Space announces a solo exhibition by internationally renowned Indian artist Shilpa Gupta, opening on 7th July 2018. The exhibition takes its departure point from the central piece: a new, large-scale multi-channel sound installation which gives voice to 100 poets who have been jailed over the centuries for their writing or political alignments. Exhibited alongside other new drawings and sculptures, the works highlight the fragility and vulnerability of our right to freedom of expression today.

Running across the entire first floor gallery space, 100 microphones are suspended above 100 metal rods, each piercing a page inscribed with a verse of poetry. In turn, a single microphone plays these verses, echoed by a chorus of the other 99. Lasting over an hour, the sound piece alternates between English, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, Azeri and Hindi, amongst other languages. A chorus of voices shift across the space, forming an ongoing sequence of haunting recitals. The title of the installation, For, in your tongue I cannot fit - 100 Jailed Poets, is based on a poem by 14th century Azerbaijani poet Nesimi.

Alongside this major new work are a series of drawings and objects which reflect upon the lives of the poets, including a mouth cast in metal, a drawing made with thorns and tracings on paper around the body of the missing person. Telling stories of deep conflict and endearment, the works explore the political and societal restrictions which seek to control and clamp both the imagination and the physical mobility of the poets.

A motion flapboard, typically found in transit zones and transport hubs to communicate timings and schedules, hangs from the ceiling. Subverting its intended function, Gupta replaces informational text with poetry which describes processes of arrival and departure, and the movement of people and ideas. As the split-flap display rotates, new words and prose appear, offering poignant and timely reflections which in turn lead us to question how we define identity through place and time.

For this exhibition, the artist revisits her photographic series, ‘Don’t See Don’t Hear Don’t Speak’ (2006) to create a sculpture in which three identical people encircle one another, each concealing the other’s eyes, ears or mouth. Based on a Japanese proverb made popular by Mahatma Gandhi, the work sits within the context of our current changing political landscape and recent wave of separatism – a present force in the artists own home country, where agencies are often suppressed for their views. Creating a potent dialogue with the other pieces in the exhibition, Gupta’s sculpture offers a powerful reflection on freedom of expression. The artist continues: “Time and again, like where we are at today, voices of truth cause discomfort and stand truncated, however the resonances stay and they continue to be heard.”

Gupta’s sound installation is a joint commission by YARAT Contemporary Art Space, Baku and Edinburgh Art Festival.

This exhibition is curated by Björn Geldhof.

Shilpa Gupta (b. 1976, Mumbai, India) lives and works in Mumbai, where she studied B.F.A. Sculpture at Sir J. J. School of Fine Arts, graduating in 1997. Gupta’s work has exhibited around the world including the Venice Biennale, Berlin Biennale, Tate Modern, Centre Pompidou, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Devi Art Foundation, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Mori Museum amongst others.

Founded in 2004 and now in its 15th edition, Edinburgh Art Festival is the platform for the visual arts at the heart of Edinburgh’s August festivals, bringing together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces in a city-wide celebration of the very best in visual art. Each year, the Festival features leading international and UK artists alongside the best emerging talent, major survey exhibitions of historic figures, and a special programme of newly commissioned artworks that respond to public and historic sites in the city. The 2017 Festival attracted over 315,000 visits. Edinburgh Art Festival is a registered charity supported by Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council.

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