The team at TARQ is delighted to present ‘filed under: a/muse/um’ by Garima Gupta. Encompassing five years of intensive research, the collection includes drawings, interviews and data sets of what the artist was able to uncover during her field work across the Southeast Asian archipelago.Here, she has been documenting the micro-stories around wildlife habitats as well as wildlife markets that often get misplaced in the surveying of these lands as whole.She has interviewed tribe hunters in rainforests, taxidermists in bazaars and wildlife trophy dealers functioning in shadow markets. Gupta’s hope for this project has been to read the larger wildlife trade as more than a headline, to find crucial connections between unarchived fragments of a conflict that is pushing us into a war with the very world we inhabit.
The tropics have been a site of archiving and interpreting for explorers and surveyors deployed by the imperial powers. A curious and recurring element in these utilitarian archives is the notebook kept by those documenting the region. The works in the exhibition are an act of opening up the monolith of information guarded by imperially funded bio-prospecting agencies. This series of drawings together questions the politics of data collecting and its interpretations and the impact that this has on the social and cultural understanding of an eco-system.
In an essay accompanying the exhibition, Deepa Bhasthi says, “And they wrote and wrote on reams of bitter paper, all that they did not know, yet they wrote with such an extraordinary sense of entitlement, that these limited men decided who we were, how limited the expression of our thoughts would be, how we would conduct the rest of our generations for untold years to come. Those under whom we were the colonised, the colonies, and the forever foreign.”