India Shinig: Subodh Gupta's Monumental "Line of Control" Finds a Home in India, Courtesy the KNMA

Today, the DLF mall in Saket had its fair share of unsuspecting shoppers who were convinced there was a rather unusual sale of steel vessels. One can’t blame them, it’s not everyday that you encounter a monumental Subodh Gupta sculpture in an Indian mall. But beginning tomorrow, Gupta’s “Line of Control” promises to be a permanent fixture at the lobby adjacent toKiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) for at least a year, it being the latest addition to Kiran Nadar’s already extensive collection. Nadar first encountered the sculpture in 2009 at the Tate Triennial and was so “overwhelmed” by its “awe-inspiring” nature, she decided to acquire it. This was no mean feat. The iconic stainless steel installation is ten meters high and weighs 26 tons, making it one of the largest public art installations in any museum in the country. The weight is so daunting, the basement ceiling had to be reinforced so it could withstand the colossal load. In addition, one of the shop fronts had to be dismantled to make way for the three cranes required to assemble the sculpture. Nadar ensured that the team in charge of setting up the giant mushroom cloud composed of empty, shiny steel vessels welded together was the same one who set it up at London’s Tate Britain. “Line of Control” was officially unveiled this afternoon at a Press Conference hosted by Nadar who is only to elated to have acquired what she described as “one of the most phenomenal works any artist could have done.” The work is an extension of Gupta’s continuing experiments with the medium of stainless steel vessels that are ubiquitous in Indian households. The art work was engineered in Korea and was brought to India in four massive containers. It is composed of roughly 14 to 15 parts. The installation within the lobby of the mall took about seven days during which a full-fledged work force worked through the day and night to put it together. The mushroom-cloud structure is reminiscent of Hiroshima, and alludes to the threat of nuclear attack which has sadly become a world-wide reality. Interestingly, Gupta subverts the fatality that the cloud signifies through the use of vessels, a poignant symbol of domesticity and routine. The scale of the structure makes it a force to contend with as the spectator is dwarfed by its height and is taken in by the steel that not only reflects the looming sculpture but also the spectator’s visage. Nadar hopes that the sculpture will open the museum space up to lay people who may not otherwise be drawn to art. “We hope that the viewership of Subodh’s piece will bring in more traction for the museum.” Museum Director Roobina Karode hopes to be able to somehow record the responses people have to the sculpture, including those by the unsuspecting kind who think the work is essentially a promotion for a sale of vessels. Gupta, on the other hand, is thrilled that his piece has found its way to India. “When I created this piece I never thought about where it could go,” he said at the Press Conference today. “An artist couldn’t be prouder to have his work come home.”

Friday, April 20, 2012