Previous artworks by Gupta have included a giant mushroom cloud constructed from shiny cookware, which appeared as part of the Tate Triennial in 2009, and a huge skull formed from tiffin pots, shown at the Venice Biennale in 2007. This new work, titled When Soak Becomes Spill, is placed in an eye-catching position outside the V&A on London’s busy Exhibition Street.
“When Soak Becomes Spill is a metaphor about my journey, my childhood memories and how I grew up in a middle-class family,” says Gupta. “At the same time it’s about many layers of Indian society, about how so many people living in India are still assisted by temples for day-to-day eating.”
The pans and tiffin boxes that Gupta uses are part of ordinary life for millions of Indians, who use them every day to eat meals. “It’s nice to work with that material,” he says, “which already contains so many meanings. People [in India] understand it very quickly.”
As well as questions of society in India, Gupta’s work intends to reflect on consumerism in the wider world, and the wastage that ensues. The utensils, in their shininess, appear covetable, though their emptiness is also symbolic of poverty.
When Soak Becomes Spill is on display outside the V&A until January 31, 2016. More info is at vam.ac.uk.