SUNIL GUPTA & CHARAN SINGH
‘We made the project, ‘Delhi: Communities of Belonging’, as a commission by the philanthropist John Stryker and produced by the New Press, New York. We made a photo documentary of the lives of seventeen LGBTQ people in Delhi because they represented a wide range of people interconnected by their sexuality living in one city. We chose the city because it is a hometown for both of us. The stories spoke of the complexities and contradictions that shape everyday lives for LBTQ people in India. We have seemingly opposing views co-existing; the desire to marry vs the desire to remain single, the rights of trans vs the rights of homosexuals, the reading down of a colonial law and its reinstatement. The different range of options on offer depending on your class, caste and even ethnic and
linguistic background. Our thesis was thatqueer only takes place once communities start to exist.
Sunil Gupta is interested in the transcultural experiences of gay migrants returning “home”. The question of “home” has always been a fraught one as the previous generations had crossed boundaries and borders themselves as part of their colonial experience and for them returning home was unrealistic, so assimilation was the only option. Modernity had brought about changing attitudes, language and ways of seeing to the intersecting landscapes of gender and sexuality, illness, mental and physical health in contemporary culture. Placing migrant stories into national narratives inevitably became a necessary project to counter the continuous restating of mythical notions around cultural purity. It became quickly apparent that this could only take place if the migrants’ voices and images were incorporated into the fabric of the retelling of the tales.
India continues to be the landscape of my political and artistic engagements and an important source for my research, that evolved from AIDS activism and how it influenced queer identity politics in India. Currently my research and art practice explores the issue of the use of language in queer political discourse (West vs East) (Out vs In the closet) (Us vs Them) (We), the landscapes and locations of power and privileges, challenged by the questions of legitimacy of queer experiences of a wide range of people and how all three aspects are entangled in the narratives of queer men.