Hales Gallery at Art Basel Miami Beach
Online Viewing Room
Survey: Sunil Gupta
2-6 December 2020
Hales Gallery is delighted to be participating in the Survey section of Art Basel Miami Beach 2020 online viewing room, with ‘Pretended’ Family Relationships (1988), a presentation of historic works by Sunil Gupta (b.1953 New Delhi, India). Gupta has, over a career spanning four decades, maintained a visionary approach to photography, producing a rich body of work that has pioneered a unique social and political commentary. He has remained dedicated to advocating the visibility of queer identity, born from a desire to see himself and others like him represented in art history.
This concise presentation of a number of the original photographic and xerox print collages from 1988, holds deep sociological resonance, pinpointing a specific moment in British public consciousness relating to queer liberation. 'Pretended' Family Relationships (1988) began as a series of colour photographs presented alongside poetry by Gupta’s then partner Stephen Dodd. Initially the works explored the ambivalence surrounding interracial gay male relationships in London. However, the project changed direction when Thatcher’s government introduced ‘Clause 28,’ which was enacted on 26th May 1988, stating that local authorities “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.” Quoting this phrase in the title of the series, Gupta extended the project to include lesbian relationships as well as juxtaposing black and white images of demonstrations against the clause, highlighting political action at the time.
Gupta on Clause 28:
“It had a far-reaching effect as productions across many art forms depended upon venues and funding from local authorities. It also mobilised a vigorous response from the gay and lesbian community as it brought men and women together.”
Clause 28 was only repealed throughout the United Kingdom in 2003.
Gupta recalls that at the time of making, in 1988, the series was met with a cold reception in the UK, instead receiving acclaim in the USA and Australia. Interest in the ‘Pretended’ Family Relationships series took him overseas, to a seminal panel discussion at Society for Photographic Education in Houston, TX in 1988. Here he met with people working on similar issues, including Douglas Crimp, Deborah Bright, Doug Ischar, Kaucyila Brooke and Hinda Schuman, who he maintained ongoing long-distance discussions with.
Gupta was recently included in the blockbuster exhibition, Masculinities: Liberation through Photography at the Barbican Centre, London, UK (2020.) Gupta is the subject of a major touring retrospective, From Here to Eternity – a collaboration between The Photographers’ Gallery London, UK (2020) and the Ryerson Image Centre (Toronto, Canada).
Gupta’s work is represented in many important collections including, the Museum of Modern Art, NY, USA; Tate, London, UK; Philadelphia Museum of Art, PA, USA; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Japan; the Royal Ontario Museum, Canada; Arts Council of Great Britain; and Harvard University, MA, USA.