Photographs of what might have been in Norwich exhibition
PUBLISHED: 08:59 14 February 2012
They're devoid of people yet filled with human presence, leaving us with the sensation that something has just happened or is about to happen. SIMON PARKIN looks at an exhibition of the photographs of Avi Gupta.
Avi Gupta captures found situations, untouched by the artist yet framed by him to highlight subtle details and unexpected juxtapositions.
There Is Here is his first UK exhibition, specially commissioned by the Sainsbury’s Centre and launching its new contemporary art gallery Next Modern.
Avi Gupta’s parents emigrated from India to America and his work is influenced by the experience of growing up as part of the Bengali community in Washington DC.
The exhibition includes a series of over 30 photographs taken inside Bengali homes in Kolkata, India and the Washington area (four of which are pictured here).
With a variety of print sizes ranging from intimate to larger than life, the images depict everyday household scenes as found by the artist: slices of pumpkin resting on a kitchen table, an empty prayer room after a puja, unworn jeans lying on a bed.
Even though human interaction is evident in the scenes, no people are pictured in the exhibit, encouraging the viewer to contemplate the inhabitant’s presence through their possessions.
The exhibition also features a video piece, Sitting Room, and a sub-series of photos titled Offerings, which portray the various foods the artist was offered during his home visits.
His photographs are both personal and linked to universal themes, with explorations of globalisation, value systems and cultural hybridity shown through the detail of domestic life.
“I find it critical to produce pictures that provoke contemplation,” says the photographer. “By approaching photography with a subtractive mentality, I repeatedly question what should not be included in any given scene. The resulting images are minimal and quiet, deliberately devoid of people, hinting at their presence through the residue of their absence.
“The mood is melancholy and nostalgic, yet aesthetically welcoming the viewer to explore the ideas of belonging and identity within the parameters of home.”
Emily Crane, Sainsbury Centre curator, said: “Avi Gupta is an incredibly talented photographer, constantly searching for alternative modes of photographic representation and how to move away from the ubiquitous photographic styles that fill our everyday lives. Yet the images for the exhibition are about the everyday, the beauty of the found domestic environment and the poetry of the signifiers of human adaptation across continents.
“This sensitive and thoughtful work is being revealed for the first time in this exhibition of unique and powerful photography of the home.”
■ There Is Here: Photographs by Avi Gupta is at the Sainsbury Centre from February 4-July 1, free admission, 01603 593199, www.scva.ac.uk