YARAT Contemporary Art Space announces a solo exhibition by internationally renowned Indian artist Shilpa Gupta. 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.
Notes to editors:
Exhibition: Shilpa Gupta
Location: YARAT Contemporary Art Centre, (Near National Flag Square), Bayil, AZ1003
Dates: July 7 – September 30, 2018
Exhibition opens: Tuesday through Sunday, from 12:00 – 22:00
Admission is free
YARAT is an artist-founded, not-for-profit art organisation based in Baku, Azerbaijan, established by Aida Mahmudova in 2011. YARAT (which means create in Azerbaijani) is dedicated to contemporary art with a long-term commitment to creating a hub for artistic practice, research, thinking and education in the Caucasus, Central Asia and surrounding region.
YARAT comprises YARAT Art Centre, ARTIM Project Space, YARAT Studios, YAY Gallery and an extended educational and public programme. YARAT Art Centre, a 2000m² converted Soviet-era naval building, opened in March 2015 and is the organisations main exhibition space. The exhibition programme features new commissions by artists responding to the region. It supports and provides access to artists from the region, while engaging and introducing established, international artists.
In October 2015, YARAT opened ARTIM, a central, accessible and dynamic space in Bakus Old City. ARTIM (meaning progress in Azerbaijani) shows experimental practices and new work by emerging Azeri art professionals (selected through open call) and the international artists from the residency programme. It features multiple small-scale projects each year and hosts ARTIM LAB, a programme enabling young artists to engage in workshops and daily studio practice to generate new ideas and works.
In 2016 YARAT launched a renewed residency programme. Aimed at developing young Azerbaijani voices and emerging international artists, the focus is on new, innovative practices and artists with an interest in the region. The residency programme hosts 6 international and 4 local artists a year at YARAT Studios’ spaces.
Education has been at the heart of YARATs activities since its creation. With a dedicated public programme that includes courses, workshops, lectures, screenings, festivals, literature and theatre clubs and family weekends, YARAT aims to give access to broad audiences of all ages. The public programme invests proactively in building communities and nurturing a wider understanding of, and participation in, contemporary art.
About Edinburgh Art Festival
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. For more information, please visit www.edinburghartfestival.com or follow the Festival on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @EdArtFest #EdArtFest.
Shilpa Gupta’s commission is also supported by the Scottish Government’s Festivals Expo Fund and EventScotland, with additional support of Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Scottish Poetry Library and Pen International.
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