Don't See Don't Hear Don't Speak

Shilpa Gupta


Presented in partnership with Harbourfront Centre.

Shilpa Gupta’s work subversively probes religion, race, class, gender and local situational politics. She provokes questions about our core beliefs, about how we think and who we are. Aiming towards the possibility of social change through art, Gupta offers critical opinions on a visually saturated society ruled by politics and commerce. She attempts to surpass the negative implications of nationalism by dissecting and re-presenting societal and individual structures and codes.

The principle to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” was made popular in India by Gandhi in a speech that stood for values of positivism at the birth of a new nation. Gupta’s interpretation of this pictorial tenet – the three monkeys – in Don’t See Don’t Hear Don’t Speak (2008), suggests that the Gandhian theory of nonviolence and other dreamed-of principles, have been violated and broken. These images bring together Gupta’s concerns about social classification, and emphasize her conviction that power, politics and rapid globalization lead to social rupture and inequality. Gupta’s images at Harbourfront Centre address her examination of real and perceived borders and collapsed geographies resultant of globalization. The shipping container placed on the shore of Lake Ontario references the long-haul transportation of goods in contrast with the split-second transmission of the digital images from the artist overseas. This juxtaposition of the container and the banners reinforces Gupta's observation that Mumbai, India can seem closer to Toronto than to a remote village a few hundred kilometres away.

Gupta was born in Mumbai, where she currently lives and creates interactive video, websites, photographs, objects, sound and public performances. She has exhibited in a number of prestigious museums and galleries including the Tate Modern in London, the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai and Delhi, the ICC in Tokyo, New Museum in New York and the Tamayo Museum in Mexico.