PUBLIC ART GRANT 2007 | SHILPA GUPTA
In 2007 FICA reached out to Shilpa Gupta to support her project Making Art Public. This was a time when we hadn’t instituted the FICA Public Art Grant and in fact the experience of supporting Shilpa’s project through 2007 pushed us in the direction of instituting a Public Art Grant in 2008.
Shilpa Gupta has always been invested in engaging the public in her art practice. In this particular project she explored the idea of making art public and more accessible to a wider and interested audience in this year-long project with Timeout Mumbai, a popular magazine which features contemporary culture. Specially commissioned art prints were inserted in Timeout once a month for a one year period and distributed freely among the magazine’s 5000 subscribers as a pull-out. Visual artists, photographers, a graphic novelist and an urban researcher were invited to open up a discussion about contemporary visual production and language. Artists selected for the project included Anant Joshi, Chitra Venkataramani, Bharti Kher, Jitish Kallat, Sunil Gupta, Gulammohammed Sheikh, and NS Harsha. While the immediate reaction to the prints was difficult to gauge, Gupta was hopeful that the project will have an afterlife, “when these images might stay inpeople’s everyday life , in their drawers, get pinned up on their boards or framed.”
The project tied into Gupta’s larger interests as an artist in understanding the role and function of art and its language. “This is something I explore in my own work, looking and working with structures to create and share works with people keeping in mind interactivity, new media, distribution, shifting meanings, etc. There is a lack of public interfaces, simply criticizing [art] is not enough and therefore [I] slip into the role of a facilitator.” Her other public artprojects include Aar Paar (1, 2 and 3 in collaboration with Pakistani artistHuma Mujli), a public art exchange between India and Pakistan where art wasswapped between the two countries and shown in public spaces, at roadside teastalls and paan shops, plastered on city walls and distributed as foldedhandouts; Blame, an interactive project in local trains; Yaddash-Double Dhamaka flyers at Andheri Station; and Spice Adventures, a children’s animation andgame CD in collaboration with Majlis Production.