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Shilpa Gupta

For, in Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit: 100 Jailed Poets

Artist

Shilpa Gupta
Born in Mumbai, India, in 1976

Title

For, in Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit: 100 Jailed Poets

Date

2017-2018

Materials

100 books cast in gun metal, table, 1/3

Dimensions

128 x 1219 x 61 cm

Credits

Purchase, W. Bruce C. Bailey Fête-champêtre Fund, inv. 2019.184

Collection

International Contemporary Art

Shilpa Gupta is one of the most important Indian artists of her generation. Her multimedia practice challenges our understanding of the borders both real and imagined – demarcations of territory, limits of space, race, gender, language, class and ideology – that mediate our existence. Language is at the heart of Gupta’s work. Drawing its title from a line by the Azerbaijani poet Nesimi (about 1369-1417), For, in Your Tongue, I Cannot Fit: 100 Jailed Poets consists of a hundred gunmetal casts of books written by poets from around the world and at different times who have been jailed for their writing. On the books are inscriptions or English translations of quotations selected by the artist from collections of poems dear to her. The poets presented include Afghanistan’s Khushhal Khattak (1613-1689), France’s Jean Richepin (1849-1926), India’s Asrar Hussain Khan (1919-2000), the U.S.’s Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997), Pakistan’s Habib Jalib (1928-1993), Nigeria’s Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995) and father of the artist Zina Saro-Wiwa, painter of a diptych recently acquired by the Museum, Saudi Arabia’s Ashraf Fayadh (b. 1980) and Syria’s Tal Al-Mallouhi (b. 1991). Assembled, their words serve as a reminder of the power of language and its capacity to both divide and unite.

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