5th May 2015
Shilpa Gupta and Rashid Rana’s ‘My East is Your West’ opens in Venice

My East is Your West, a Collateral Event at the 56th Venice Biennale, opened on Tuesday 5 May 2015. Commissioned by The Gujral Foundation, this landmark exhibition unites for the first time at the Biennale the historically conflicting nations of India and Pakistan in a shared exhibition by artists from both countries. Shilpa Gupta (Mumbai) and Rashid Rana (Lahore) each present a new series of works at the Palazzo Benzon, situated in the centre of Venice on the Grand Canal. As neither India nor Pakistan has a permanent national pavilion in Venice, this presentation provides a unique platform for artists from South Asia to enter into a dialogue through the arts, representing the Indian subcontinent as one region.

Titled after a light installation by Shilpa Gupta, My East is Your West was born out of the desire to reposition the complex climate of historical relations between South Asia’s nation-states and presents the region as a shared cultural cartography. Shilpa Gupta’s new series of works brings together over four years of ongoing research in the India-Bangladesh borderlands and the world’s longest security barrier between two nation-states currently in construction. Rashid Rana presents an immersive setting across five rooms surveying the conception of presence, temporality and location as collective experience, across digital printmaking, video and installation. In a live stream video work, produced in collaboration with the Lahore Biennale Foundation, viewers will be transported from Venice to Lahore and vice versa.

Reflecting each distinctive practice, both artists explore and examine the integral essence of a people divided, a history which spans antiquity, colonial modernity and a cosmopolitan present entangled in conflict. With works that bring to the foreground entangled realities of the Indian subcontinent, Shilpa Gupta and Rashid Rana develop a material aesthetic that surveys the potential of a common region, separate from the state and its model.


Image Credit: Rashid Rana and Shilpa Gupta (detail), Courtesy of The Gujral Foundation