Artist and Curator in Conversation: Sunil Gupta and Mark Sealy

Sunil Gupta, #13 from The New Pre-Raphaelites, 2008 (printed 2020), pigment print. Courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, London and New York; Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; and Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi. © Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2022

Artist and Curator in Conversation
Sunil Gupta and Mark Sealy

Ryerson Image Centre (RIC)
Online via Zoom
Wednesday, June 22, 2022
12 pm EST

Join pioneering community artist Sunil Gupta and Director of Autograph (UK) Dr. Mark Sealy, OBE, as they discuss From Here to Eternity. Sunil Gupta, A Retrospective, on view through August 6 at the RIC.

Gupta and Sealy will discuss their collaboration as artist and curator to organize and contextualize Gupta’s long and influential career in photography. The artist’s autobiographical narratives capture his experiences as a gay man of colour living in Canada, the U.S., England, and his birthplace, India. Gupta and Sealy will reveal insights into the selection of works on display, spanning the 1970s to 2010s, and audience members will be invited to think critically about the relationship between identity, representation, community, sexuality, and freedoms.

Gupta and Sealy will also review their award winning photography book From Here to Eternity (Autograph, 2020), which accompanies the exhibition. Longtime colleagues, the two have been in dialogue for 30 years as key innovators in the rich photography community of the United Kingdom.

“The more I understand Gupta’s praxis, the more I understand that his work, body and being are a creative political and personal marriage,” writes Sealy. “(His) photography incorporates the big (P)olitics of social change, but it is also a life lived in politics that fuels his journey as both a leader and a follower through family, location and geography, and through different kinds of communities, across race, place and gender.”

From Here to Eternity. Sunil Gupta, A Retrospective (installation view), 2022 © James Morley, Ryerson Image Centre.

About the Artist

Sunil Gupta (b. 1953, India/Canada/UK) was educated at the Royal College of Art, London, England, and received a PhD from the University of Westminster, England. Gupta’s work uses independent photography as a critical practice, focusing on race, migration, and queer issues.

His recent show (with Charan Singh), Dissent and Desire, was presented at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi, India (2018) and his project Christopher Street 1976, published in 2018 (Stanley Barker) was presented at Hales Gallery in New York (2019). His work has been exhibited in various group exhibitions, including at the Pompidou Centre, France (2011) and The Place is Here (Nottingham Contemporary, England, 2017).

Gupta is a Visiting Tutor at the Royal College of Art and was Lead Curator for the 2018 Fotofest in Houston, USA. His work can be found in many private and public collections, including Tate Modern and Tate Britain (London, England), George Eastman Museum (Rochester, USA), the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography (Japan), the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York, USA).

About the Curator

Dr Mark Sealy OBE is Executive Director of Autograph and Professor, Photography, Rights and Representation at University Arts London – London College of Communication, also affiliated to the Photography Archive and Research Centre.

Sealy is interested in the relationship between art, photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. He has written for many of the world’s leading photographic journals, produced numerous artist publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide.

Lawrence and Wishart have published Sealy’s more recent critical writings on photography. These titles include Photography: Race, Rights and Representation (2022) and Decolonising the Camera: Photography in Racial Time (2019).

Sunil Gupta: From Here to Eternity (book cover), 2020, © Autograph


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From Here to Eternity. Sunil Gupta, A Retrospective
April 6–August 6, 2022

This exhibition offers a complex and layered view of artist Sunil Gupta’s unique transcontinental photographic vision. From Here to Eternity brings together a comprehensive selection of works from the innovative career of this pioneering community artist. From his participation in New York’s radical Gay Liberation Movement in the 1970s to his more recent campaigning in India, Gupta has inspired generations of photographers, artist/activists, and advocates for LGBTQ+ rights.

Mauvais Genre/Under Cover: A Secret History of Cross-Dressers
April 6–August 6, 2022

Comprising over 160 amateur photographs, this exhibition explores a range of practices relating to cross-dressing from the 1880s to the 1980s. It is drawn from the extensive personal archives of French filmmaker and photography collector Sébastien Lifshitz. The selection includes images of spectacular cross-dressers and glamorous drag queens, but also individuals whose transgressive actions are much more discreet and domestic. Taken by mostly unknown photographers, the prints are of unnamed and unknown figures posing for the camera, using the apparel and gestures traditionally assigned to the “opposite sex.” They have been collected from flea markets, garage sales, junk shops and eBay and were taken in Europe and the United States.

The exhibition offers a candid look into the hidden worlds of individuals and groups that have chosen to defy gender conventions and explore a range of identities and presentations that diverge from what society has restrictively prescribed.

Dominique Blain: Dérive/Drift
April 6–August 6, 2022

Sensitive, powerful, and supremely delicate, Dominique Blain’s Drift is comprised of hundreds of press and amateur images of the sea. Found on the internet and compiled in careful layers, these images gently lift like sails in the breeze to reveal scenes of fragile, makeshift boats floating on perilous waters. This multi-channel video commemorates the countless migrants who flee situations of war, poverty, and violence, sailing in search of freedom.

Heather Rattray: Things That I Know, Things That You Know
June 29–August 6, 2022

Things That I Know, Things That You Know documents a mother-daughter duo’s desire to connect with familial roots through the learning and re-learning of the Dutch language. Rattray chronicles intimate visual representations of their learning process, one that is simultaneously shared and independent of each other due to the distance that separates them, both geographically and in learning styles. In returning to their mother tongue, their familial relationship is transformed, their culture and traditions reclaimed.

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