Shilpa Gupta: I did not tell you what I saw, but only what I dreamt: Amant, Brooklyn
I did not tell you what I saw, but only what I dreamt centers on an underlying pursuit within Shilpa Gupta’s practice: the invisible structures of control affecting both the individual and the collective. She juxtaposes mechanisms orchestrated by the state, or even societal forces, with narratives of mobility, persistence, and risks. This exhibition explores how abstract cartographic representations shape our everyday behaviors, and prompts its viewers to ask: What kind of maps surround us? Are they only physical or also personal? What defines us as people and what informs the collective imagination?
Borrowing the final verse, “I did not tell you what I saw, but only what I dreamt,” from A Dream (1845) by Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), the exhibition engages with questions related to the body and speech, presenting new works alongside other projects from the past decade. Shilpa’s journey has been profoundly shaped by her upbringing in Mumbai, India, a dynamic metropolis characterized by constantly shifting boundaries. Her works, which have been exhibited both within galleries and in public spaces, encourage viewers to assume the subject position of the “other,” thereby challenging us to acknowledge our potential complicity with power apparatuses.
This exhibition consists of two bodies of work spanning across Amant's two main galleries. 932 Grand centers on narratives of subversion, social affinities, and economic imperatives. The works on view reveal how authority, and individuals who represent the state, fragment in the face of personal desire. In Shilpa’s projects, the concept of the border emerges as a constantly evolving reality that resists labeling, classifying, or limiting mobility. The second body of work exhibited in 315 Maujer, delves deeper into the artist's practice, illustrating how power mechanisms seep beyond the confines of maps and infiltrate the realm of language by using (and abusing) the tools of communication. Through her sound installations, sculptures, and drawings, Shilpa foregrounds how the subjective imagination can persist and provide hope even when speech is suppressed and words, texts, and bodies are rendered silent and invisible.
Shaped by Shilpa’s interest in research and pedagogy, the exhibition also includes works that integrate learning activities, which are available to all ages in our 932 Grand reception space.
Installation view, Shilpa Gupta, I did not tell you what I saw, But only what I dreamt, Amant, New York, US.
Photo by Sebastian Bach. Courtesy of the artist and Amant.