«Dissent and Desire» presents a committed series of crisp and colorful photographs by Sunil Gupta and Charan Singh. This timely body of work constitutes an unprecedented mosaic of contemporary LGBTQ+ lives in Delhi, India. Through twenty singular stories, we are invited into the daily routines, work, and homes of subjects from diverse backgrounds—including urban professionals and activists. By focusing on quiet and quotidian moments, Gupta and Singh allow us to see how the ordinary can indeed be daring.
Concentrating on Delhi, the complex city from which both artists hail, Gupta and Singh chronicle networks of queer individuals who are surviving under and protesting against stigma and criminalized behavior. The intimate images reflect the photographers’ celebrated capacity for capturing lives rarely seen. Gupta and Singh have created tender portraits of the ways in which this set of subjects 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 Indian Supreme Court reversed the ruling in 2013 in a surging wave of homophobia. The Indian context is also notable for its ancient relationship to ideas of gender fluidity. Indeed, the Indian Supreme Court legally recognizes third gender, including eunuchs, intersex, hijra, and transgender. Despite this progressive societal movement, privilege tied to class and language is a factor that continues to divide queer communities.
This body of work celebrates the complexity of queer lives in India, covering multiple points of view found in Delhi’s LGBTQ+ communities. This multiplicity of representation problematizes easy classification of those depicted, instead allowing a focus on the textures of their daily lives. This body of work is notable for the autonomy and respect it offers its photographic subjects. As first-person companion narratives accompany the photographs, the stories of those represented are told in their voice using their words.
Both artistic and romantic partners, Gupta and Singh have notable individual art practices. This body of work represents their first formal collaboration. Charan Singh (b. 1978, India) is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Royal College of Art, London. Sunil Gupta (b. 1953, India/United Kingdom) is a Canadian photographer, artist, educator, and curator. Gupta is also the Lead Curator for the Houston-based FotoFest 2018 Biennial, INDIA: Contemporary Photography and New Media Art, which will take place during the run of this exhibition.
This exhibition is co-curated by CAMH Director Bill Arning and Patricia Restrepo, Assistant Curator and Exhibitions Manager.
Admission is free and open to the public.
Music will be provided by KTRU’s The Navrang Show DJ, Gaura Karuna.
Cash bar, with light bites generously provided by Pondicheri.