Shilpa Gupta | India

Threat, 2009

Bathing Soap
Exhibition Copy
120x140x67 cm
Each Unit: 15x6x4 cm

Courtesy of Yvon Lambert, Paris

Shilpa Gupta is from Mumbai, a city ripe with racial and religious diversity, factors that play key roles in her art.

In this sculpture, hundreds of pieces of soap have been embossed with the word "threat". The size, weight and shape of the soap bars are chosen to resemble bricks; Threat looks like the foundation of a building or a sacrificial altar. The bricks are cast soap, tinted to the approximate hue of human tan skin.

Against the skin tone, they are suggestive of scarification and wounds. The smell is powerfully soapy.

Of all the works, this sculpture perhaps expresses most succinctly Gupta's position among the world's unrest. The bars of soap are performative and can be imagined in use: the only way to diminish and eventually remove the threat is by standing close to it.

Opposition and intimacy meet in the simple gesture of these objects, and suddenly the overwhelming fears in the world are presented as a manageable stack that can be dealt with through patience and a willingness to be close to what is perceived as dangerous.