Artist and photographer Aayushi Gupta grapples with a fear of ignorance in her new exhibit Trapped Departures, which ran last week at Gallery 23 in the heart of Edinburgh’s culturally layered city centre.
On opening night, Aayushi guided the viewing public into the exhibit by candlelight, sweet incense, and the hushed almost mesmerising tones of an original soundtrack made up of cello, clarinet and acoustic guitar. One of the musicians, Pavlos, a sound design postgraduate at the University of Edinburgh, told me of the improvisation of the piece. He stated that he and fellow musical artists Tushar and Sol composed the entire musical score in just 90 minutes. Pavlos picked out the best 30 minutes of the piece, which then played in a loop during the exhibit and, as Aayushi explained to me, is essential to the photographs on display.
As crowds of fellow art enthusiasts gathered in the darkened room, Aayushi suddenly turned on the lights, and it was as if a blindfold had been ripped from each of our faces, and we were exposed to themes of soul, Socratic reincarnation and philosophy, and escape from the material world. Immediately, we were thrown from ignorance and thrust into the inspiring mind of Aayushi Gupta.
Autumn leaves carpeted the wooden floor and trailed across a photo of a man lying in the fetal position and bathed in light: not simply light captured within the photograph, but the further light from a candle placed carefully at the side of the picture, mirroring the direction of the source of the light held within it. On the walls hung other photos of translucent figures that were barely human. They were locked within suffocating settings.
An entire wall of photographs almost charted the trajectory of one single movement, begun by the figure in the picture on the far left, and ending with the figure in the photo on the far right. It was easy to get swept away by the horror of the captured soul, yearning to break free. Aayushi explained that she wanted to explore aestheticism in regard to photography, something that is rare as opposed to aestheticism in paintings. Furthermore, Aayushi stated that the music, incense and the pictures all contribute to the mood of the exhibit. She intended to barrage the senses of her audience, making them really ponder on her extraordinary work.
Image credit: Aayushi Gupta