Abeer Gupta

Archival and Museum Fellowships

Grant Period: Over one year

Abeer Gupta currently works as Assistant Professor, at the School of Design, Ambedkar University, Delhi. He teaches courses in research methods and aesthetics to post-graduate students of Social Design. He graduated from the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad and studied visual anthropology at Goldsmiths’ College, University of London. He has been working extensively in Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, with oral histories, material cultures and visual archives.

For this fellowship, Abeer will focus his research on the role, relevance and meaning of an ethnographic object in the contemporary world. Ascribed with a certain cultural value, these objects have been viewed simultaneously as colonial artifacts, tourism souvenirs and antiques. But for their community, they act as a bridge between time and space when seen in the context of migration, urbanisation and the production of a global economy. The past century has been witness to several kinds of diasporas which are a result of political, religious and economic upheavals, as well as migrations to urban centres. This has resulted in the severance of cultural continuities, created large gaps in knowledge systems, and produced vast commodification of cultural artefacts. Abeer intends to create an intersection between a given ethnographic collection and the community it belongs to, at a point where the community itself has shifted to an alternate location or is scattered across numerous locations. He is tentatively imagining a set of objects from a broader Himalayan region which is a confluence of Tibetan and sub-continental material and visual cultures, as a site for the exchange of aesthetics, materials and technologies.

Further, Abeer’s research will also look at the role of the ethnographic museum in contemporary times: Is it just a site for preserving memory or can there be inspired ways of displaying the collection, so as to create a space for dialogue, incorporating the diversifications and improvisations which communities have resorted to, in the process of their survival in newer contexts?

The outcome of Abeer’s research will be an exhibition and an essay. The deliverables for this research will be process-images, images of the exhibition, essay and publication, if any.

This grant was made possible with support from the Tata Trusts.