National Highway No 1 (En Route Srinagar to Gulmurgh), 2008

Shilpa Gupta, India


Shilpa Gupta uses common modes of representation and technology, the familiarity of which helps make the work accessible to the viewer. As in National Highway No. 1 (En Route Srinagar to Gulmurgh), 2008, her work often addresses the ideas of borders and territorial politics.
In this work she presents the viewer with a shifting landscape, the road between Srinagar and Gulmurgh, in the troubled Kashmir region. In the video the beauty of the landscape is glimpsed through views of the trees, towns and fields, and shots of people by the side of the road. Gupta makes us aware of the psychological pressure often felt by visitors to an emergency state such as Kashmir, which has been debilitated by the forces of militarization and surveillance since the late 1980s.

In this video installation the viewer encounters what appears to
be a record of a road-trip, tracking along a pastoral landscape in
a blur of speed and distance. However, the video/experience is occasionally halted whenever a soldier is spotted in the landscape. Each time a soldier appears on the screen, the image stops, stutters and repeats, then returns to normality for a time, only to experience the next soldier and the next jolt. This sighting of soldiers at regular intervals could be read as a testimony to “sleeping and time, a visual exploration of duration and rupture that allows us to see deep into a situation.”