Subodh Gupta (b. 1964)
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Subodh Gupta (b. 1964)

Untitled # 11

Subodh Gupta (b. 1964)
Untitled # 11
cast aluminium
18 1/8 x 21¼ x 29½ in. (46 x 54 x 75 cm.)
Executed in 2006; edition 2/3
Art & Public - Cabinet PH Gallery, Geneva, 2006
Subodh Gupta: Gandhi's Three Monkey's, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, 2008, illustrated p. 192
Basel, Art Basel, June 2006
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Lot Essay

Saat Samundar Paar (Across the Seven Seas) is a series of works undertaken by the artist on the theme of migration and the return home. Luggage, luggage carts and airport conveyor belts become overarching metaphors for the hopes and dreams invested in these journeys as well as the psychological baggage bourne by the immigrant migrant worker vacillating between homesickness, alienation and assimilation. The carefully wrapped bundles of meager worldly possessions transform to equally precious cargo of foreign paraphernalia proudly carried and disbursed to the extended family on the journey home. These works are meant as oblique commentaries on class inequities. Gupta's allusion to the more recent phenomenon of the migrant worker from India's lower classes toiling in the Middle East and Southeast Asia also has antecedents in the history of Bihar, the artist's home province. Bihar's reputation for anarchy and lawlessness is partially rooted from the notion of transience as impoverished Biharis were sent abroad as bonded labourers to far-flung colonies such as Mauritius and the West Indies in vast large-scale migrations since the mid-19th century.

They work really hard there and after six months or a year they come home. Whatever they dream of and can afford they bring back in these enormous packs - ghathri. Their baggage represents the pride of going abroad and taking money back to their families, but it also means sharing rooms with ten or twelve other Indians in overcrowded conditions without their families and wives. (Artist statement, Silk Route, Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, 2007)

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