On July 28th 2005 I got a phone call that told me that my cousin was safe. On July 26th 2005 39 plus inches of rain raised the tide and poured water from the Arabian Sea, through the Gateway of India into the Mumbai area. My cousin, living in Mumbai, was caught in the water in a taxi for two days. As a second generation Indian, far away from this disaster, the only thing that I could relate to in this account was my recollection of the Gateway from a visit years past; the rest was too surreal to comprehend.
In 2009 I finally revisited the gateway, and coming into contact with this monument began a dialogue in my work about the idea of commemoration. I began to conduct a series of interviews on the interactions friends and family members had had with this iconic space of shared national memory. I appropriated the architectural silhouette of this landmark, and replicated the outline of the building in collagraph plates. I printed the building’s silhouette, and subsequently through layers of monotype I obliterated the building in response to the interviews I conducted about my cousin’s experience. Through this experience, I collect, classify and internalize these events that have occurred in relation to these monuments.
As part of depicting the physiological impact of the flood I used water as a metaphor. Rather than depict the violence and devastation directly, as it was not my story to illustrate, I suggested the damage and pain the floods caused through my depiction of the floodwaters. I looked at the bubbles, muddy water, and bobbing objects in video footage. I was influenced by the work of Roni Horn, and Katsushika Hokusai. I used stylized and realistic depictions of water to enhance the visual language with which I could depict the floodwaters. This visual language helped me build an ominous quality to the water and capture the true meaning behind these personal memories.
Personal memory and individual tragedy are an unwritten history that is not visible in the building’s structure; no inscription on the Gateway celebrates these events. Events that have occurred near these monuments need to be recorded, the through that process of reaction and recollection, the monument is rechristened as a memorial to these floods. This work brings me in dialogue with events that have affected me personally, and allows me to give personal experiences the commemoration I know they deserve.
Trisha Gupta moved to the Washington, DC area from St Louis, MO in 2010. She has exhibited across the US as well as in the traveling print exhibition “Arcadia id Est” which included the National Print Museum in Dublin. She is also a Silver Medalist in the 2005 Scholastic Art and Writing award from the Corcoran Gallery of Art.