Artist Subodh Gupta Steps Down as Co-Curator of the Goa Arts Festival Amid Allegations of Sexual Harassment

The accusations are the latest from an anonymous Instagram account targeting prominent figures in the Indian art world.

Subodh Gupta at his exhibition “Guests, Strangers and Interlopers” at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah. Photograph by John McKinnon, courtesy of the SCAD Museum of Art.
Artist Subodh Gupta at his exhibition “Guests, Strangers and Interlopers” at the SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia. Photograph by John McKinnon, courtesy of the SCAD Museum of Art.

Indian artist Subodh Gupta has stepped down as guest curator of the Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa after allegations of sexual harassment emerged against him on Instagram. The anonymous user Scene and Herd (@herdsceneand), which has in the past posted allegations about other figures in the Indian art world, posted an account last week from an unnamed woman who described Gupta as a “serial sexual harasser” who inappropriately touched and made comments about her and other women he worked with.

Art writer Rosalyn D’mello, who has worked for Nature Morte, Gupta’s New Delhi gallery, came forward in the comments to say that she had previously heard similar stories about Gupta from numerous women. “I want to state that the post pertaining to Subodh is not ‘made up’ or isn’t ‘revenge’ or isn’t ‘attention-seeking.’ They are true,” she wrote.

Gupta has denied the accusations to the Press Trust of India, calling them “entirely false and fabricated,” and adding: “I have never behaved in an inappropriate manner with any individual who worked with me.”

Serendipity, which runs December 15–22, was Gupta’s first curatorial project. He planned to present an 11-artist exhibition titled “My Colour on Your Plate,” featuring work by Anita Dube (the current curator of Kochi Muziris Biennale), artist Paul McCarthy, and journalist Mayank Austen Soofi. A statement from the festival published by Mint magazine said Gupta stepped down “so as not to detract” from the festival.

Subodh Gupta's This is not a fountain (2011-2013) at Hauser & Wirth

Subodh Gupta, This is not a fountain (2011–13) at Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Ben Davis.

A representative for Nature Morte told artnet News that the gallery “has learnt of the statements that have been made concerning Subodh Gupta in the last few days. Nature Morte has a zero-tolerance policy against any types of harassment or discrimination, particularly sexual discrimination.”

In the US, Gupta shows with Hauser & Wirth, which sent artnet News an almost identical statement: “We have been made aware of the statements being made about Subodh Gupta’s behavior towards women and are deeply troubled by them. Hauser & Wirth upholds the highest standards of mutual respect and maintains a zero-tolerance policy toward all forms of harassment and discrimination, including sexual harassment.”

Similarly, Galleria Continua, which represents Gupta in Italy, said it was aware of the allegations, which it is “handling as a matter of upmost importance.”

 

Christened the “Damien Hirst of Delhi” by the Guardian back in 2007, Gupta is perhaps India’s best-known contemporary artist. Much of his work is monumental sculpture constructed from kitchenware such as stainless steel tiffins, a typical Indian lunchbox.

The Scene and Herd Instagram account has targeted numerous men in the Indian art world in the past for alleged sexual misconduct, leading to the temporary resignations of artist Riyas Komu from his role as secretary of India’s Kochi-Muziris Biennale, which he co-founded, and Gaurav Bhatia, the managing director of Sotheby’s India, who stepped down on the eve of the auction house’s first sale. Protests took place this week at the biennale, with #MeToo activists calling on the exhibition’s organizers to answer questions about investigations into the allegations against Komu.

Additional reporting by Julia Halperin.


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