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Mr.Malhotra's Party Sunil Gupta
Mr.Malhotra’s Party © Sunil Gupta

Sunil Gupta

Sunil Gupta is a Canadian citizen, (b. New Delhi 1953) MA (Royal College of Art) Ph.D. (University of Westminster), who has been involved in independent photography as a critical practice for many years focusing on race, migration, and queer issues. At the center of his work, Gupta points to the ever-present question: ‘What does it mean to be a gay Indian man?’ From the early 1980s on, he made numerous trips back to India motivated by a personal desire to understand the hidden realities of life for gay men there and to use photography as a way of both testifying to its existence and highlighting the invisibility of this socially and politically oppressed group. Sensitive to the ethical complications surrounding this, it was on the streets of his hometown Delhi that he developed his method of ‘staged documentary’, photographing only people who agreed to take part and working with them to construct what appeared like documentary pictures of the sites where queer men typically met.

In the 1980s, Gupta constructed documentary images of gay men at architectural spaces in Delhi in his “Exiles” series. The images and texts describe the conditions for gay men in India at the time. Gupta’s recent series “Mr. Malhotra’s Party” updates this theme at a time when queer identities are more open and also reside in virtual space on the internet and in private parties. His early documentary series “Christopher Street, New York” was shot in the mid-1970s as Gupta studied under Lisette Model at the New School for Social Research and became interested in the idea of gay public space. Gupta’s published works include the monographs: Queer: Sunil Gupta (Prestel/Vadehra Art Gallery, 2011); Wish You Were Here: Memories of a Gay Life (Yoda Press, New Delhi, 2008); and Pictures From Here (Chris Boot Ltd., New York, 2003). He exhibited (with Charan Singh), “Dissent and Desire” (catalogue) at the Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston 2018 which was accompanied by the book, Delhi: Communities of Belonging, The New Press, New York 2016. His last publication was Christopher Street, Stanley Barker 2018 and his forthcoming publications are Lovers: Ten Years On, Stanley Barker 2020, and Sunil Gupta: From Here to Eternity, Autograph 2020. His works have been seen in many important group shows including “Paris, Bombay, Delhi…” at the Pompidou Centre, Paris 2011 and “Masculinities” at Barbican, London 2020. His retrospectives take place at The Photographers’ Gallery, London (2020) and Ryerson Image Center, Toronto 2021. He is a Professorial Fellow at UCA, Farnham, and Visiting Tutor at the Royal College of Art, London. He was the Lead Curator for the Houston Fotofest 2018. His works are in many private and public collections including George Eastman House (Rochester, USA), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Royal Ontario Museum, Tate, Harvard University, and the Museum of Modern Art. His works are represented by Hales Gallery (New York, London), Stephen Bulger Gallery (Toronto), and Vadehra Art Gallery (New Delhi).

Published on March 19, 2021
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