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Updated: September 8, 2012 20:53 IST

Showcase: Benign cloudburst

SWATI DAFTUAR
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Subodh Gupta's mammoth installation
Subodh Gupta's mammoth installation "Line of Control" Photo: Special Arrangement

It weighs 26 tons and measures 36x36 feet. For 80hours, over three dozen men and three cranes toiled to install it. Subodh Gupta’s massive, awe-inspiring and monumental sculpture installation, Line of Control, stands in India’s first philanthropic museum, The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art. Shown for the first time in India, the installation is curated by Nicolas Bourriaud. The sculpture, taking a cue from the devastating effects of nuclear warfare, mirrors the appearance of the mushroom cloud and reminds the viewer of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings. The name alludes to the contested borders and disputed territories, namely, the Indo-Pak border. Made from over a thousand stainless steel kitchen utensils, the overall effect of the sculpture is dramatic and imposing.

In 1999, with India and Pakistan on the brink of nuclear war, Subodh Gupta made his first mushroom cloud. “Line of Control stereotypically brings to mind geo-political conflict but I have used it here as a poetic metaphor, to transgress and subvert its known meaning and wittily present a cloudburst of another kind: of prosperity, peace and harmony,” says Gupta. His predominant influence for this project was from Japanese disasters, but the artist confesses that he couldn't help but draw a parallel to the Indian-Pakistan border.

The installation was previously displayed at Altermodern: Tate Triennale, 2008, Tate Britain, London, earlier this year where it stunned viewers by its proportions and was described as heroic, experimental and theatrical by art critics.

The use of the utensils, Gupta’s signature style, juxtaposes two very different visuals: that of a post-disaster dust cloud and harmless everyday objects. The shiny utensils, giving the impression of being suspended in air, subvert and neutralise the very idea of the mushroom cloud and everything it symbolises. Gupta says that his mushroom cloud of kitchen utensils has a very clear message: “We do not want another Hiroshima.”

Art collector and gallery owner Kiran Nadar had to have a wall of her gallery broken down to install the piece. She accepts that, seeing the installation for the first time at the Tate, she was overwhelmed and knew that she had to have it in her museum. The gallery houses one of the most expansive and expensive collection of modern and contemporary art.

Line of Control: Installation by Subodh Gupta

Where: Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, DLF South Court Mall, Saket, Delhi

When: Till September 30

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