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Exhibition at sepiaEYE chronicles contemporary LGBTQ life in Delhi
Sunil Gupta & Charan Singh, Jatin #1, 2017. Courtesy sepiaEYE.

NEW YORK, NY.- sepiaEYE presents the groundbreaking exhibition Delhi: Communities of Belonging by noted photographers Sunil Gupta and Charan Singh that chronicles contemporary LGBTQ life in Delhi. Gupta and Singh’s project masterfully enables us to witness the intimate, ordinary and loving moments of 17 diverse individuals and couples. Gupta and Singh have created a rich and tender mosaic of the ways in which a diverse set of sitters navigate life, work and love in a country where antisodomy laws dating back to the British Empire were only recently struck down in 2009 and then were restored after the Supreme Court turned back the ruling in 2013.

Gupta and Singh photographed an array of friendship networks accentuating human warmth through the thoughtful dialogue that departs from a pre-supposed victim narrative of queer lives. Ponni and Indu share an intimate hug, Jatin plays gently with his daughter on a bed, and Rituparnah enjoys the company of her cat; these are just a few of the moments that capture how each of Gupta and Singh’s subjects stakes a place for themselves in the vast city of Delhi, in a country with very few formal spaces for queer communities to meet.

Gupta and Singh have previously created work that address gender and sexuality in India. Gupta’s recent series Mr. Malhotra’s Party, for instance, collects environmental portraits of queer Delhi residents in public places, all gazing directly at the camera. The individuals in Singh’s series of studio portraits, Kothis, Hijras, Giriyas and Others engage the camera in a similar way, by responding to and resisting virile masculine discourse.

This present project originated when Gupta and Singh were approached by The New Press to compile a book about the LGBTQ community in Delhi. The result is a stunning series of more than 150 full-color documentary photographs and companion first-person texts that together offer an unprecedented portrait of queer people’s lives in India today. The book was launched to rave reviews in November, 2016. Indian historian and gay studies scholar Saleem Kidwai remarked: “... A visible queer community has emerged in Delhi over the past two decades. What was silent and private has emerged into the public sphere. Gupta’s and Singh’s work bears testimony to this.” Some of the works were featured in January at the Victoria and Albert Museum to highlight the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalization of homosexuality in England and Wales.

The show at sepiaEYE features photographs from the series which to date have remained unseen and unpublished.

Sunil Gupta (b. Delhi, 1953) is an artist, writer, activist and curator. His work has been shown internationally in over 90 solo exhibitions, most recently at Yale University, New Haven, CT (2015). Significant group exhibitions include Paris - Delhi - Bombay... at the Pompidou Centre (2011) and Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980s Britain at the Tate Liverpool (2013). Gupta’s curatorial efforts were paramount in the monumental exhibition, Where Three Dreams Cross: 150 Years of Photography from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh at The Whitechapel Gallery, London and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (2010). Gupta’s published work includes 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 is currently Visiting Professor at UCA, Farnham, and visiting lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London, UK. His work is included in numerous private and public collections including; George Eastman House (Rochester, USA), Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Royal Ontario Museum, Tate Britain, The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Harvard University. The esteemed photography festival, FOTOFEST, has announced that the lead curator for its 2018 Biennial will be SepiaEYE artist Sunil Gupta. Gupta is an excellent choice given the Biennial’s theme: INDIAContemporary Photography and New Media Art.

Charan Singh (b. Delhi, 1978) lives and works in New Delhi and London. He is currently a PhD candidate in Photography at the Royal College of Art, London. Singh’s photographic practice is informed by HIV/AIDS work and community activism in India along with a formal study of the history of art and photography.

He is interested in interrogating and responding to the void that exists in visual representations of desires, identities, gender, sexualities, love and relationships, in contemporary queer culture. He won the Magnum Graduate Photographers Award 2016. His work has been exhibited at Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi (2014), The Photographers Gallery, London (2015), FotoFest, Houston (2015), GFEST, London (2015) and SepiaEYE, New York (2016).

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