Queer Migrations: Family, Identity, and Place, Sunil Gupta explores issues of cultural displacement or transposition, investigating the theme of individual identity as it exists within the broader context of social mores and conventions. Two pivotal bodies of photographs, “Homelands” (2001-2003) and “Mr. Malhotra’s Party” (2007-), are featured in the exhibit, which is presented in conjunction with a series of seminars throughout the Spring on South Asian Photographs entitled “Across the Disciplines: The Uses of Visual Evidence.” The exhibit is presented in collaboration with the sepiaEYE, New York, which represents Mr. Gupta’s work. The exhibit and seminar series are a Humanities/Humanity project of the Whitney Humanities Center.
Sunil Gupta’s series of large-scale photographs entitled “Homelands” represents the artist’s journeys as a gay man with HIV back to his homeland in India from his adopted homes in England and Canada. Presented as diptychs in oppositional pairings of location—East-West, inside-outside—Gupta’s bold narrative juxtapositions explore the inherent tensions that have shaped his experience as a gay Indian man living in the West.
“Mr. Malhotra’s Party” presents sexuality, community, and identity as aspects that bring together those who see themselves as “queer” in India. Since the LGBT community in India is still criminalized, private parties and the web are the few safe spaces where people can meet. In “Mr. Malhotra’s Party,” Gupta visualizes the latest virtual queer space through a series of portraits of people who identify their sexuality as “queer” in some way. As they look directly into the camera, they are willing to identify themselves—they become a part of an imaginary and more open party.
Photographer, artist, educator, and curator, Sunil Gupta is based in London and New Delhi and is currently Visiting Professor of Photography at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham UK. Born in New Delhi in 1953 and educated at the New School for Social Research (1976), West Surrey College of Art & Design (1981), and the Royal College of Art (London, 1983), he has been involved with independent photography as a critical practice for many years. Gupta has curated more than 30 exhibitions, and has organized conferences, lectures, and presentations internationally. His work is in public collections including the George Eastman House (Rochester, USA), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tate Britain, Royal Ontario Museum, and Harvard University.
© Sunil Gupta courtesy sepiaEYE.