After a lull, the instagram account, Scene and Herd, which was set up to allow women to talk about instances of sexual harassment in the Indian art world has named Subodh Gupta, for sexual harassment. The artist known for his installations that are made from utensils and other common household items.
In the anonymous post, different instances where Gupta objectified and harassed multiple women have been detailed. “I have worked with the artist Subodh Gupta, who is guest curating for this year for Serendipity. I am very surprised that no one has come forward as yet to name him as a serial sexual harasser. Although many people say to be “careful” around him. I have personally received multiple inappropriate advances and unwanted touching from him, even after clearly saying no. I know that i am not alone.”
While the post on Instagram by ‘Scene and Herd' was anonymous, Rosalyn D'mello, who has been actively writing on art for the past decade, said she backed the allegations and expressed the fear that the art world would be “dismissive” of the charges. D'mello added that she was backing the post—the latest in India's #MeToo movement against sexual harassment—as a “witness”, fully aware that it “will come at a huge personal cost and may directly impact my livelihood as an art writer”.
D'mello, who has worked with Delhi-based Nature Morte, a gallery that represents Gupta, said she has been hearing about “almost all the instances mentioned in the herdandscene testimony” since September this year, but could not expose Gupta because the stories were not for her to tell.
“I want to state that the post pertaining to Subodh is not ‘made up' or isn't ‘revenge' or isn't ‘attention-seeking'. They are true. They happened. Unless you choose not to believe them. That's your prerogative,” she wrote on both Facebook and Instagram.
Several calls and messages to Gupta, one of the curators of this year's Serendipity Arts Festival and among India's most successful contemporary artists, asking for his response went unanswered.
Organisers of the annual Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa said they would not release any statement on the incident for now.
According to the anonymous accuser, these are some of the incidents that have occured:
“He loudly asked a senior gallerist, pointing at a new assistant he had hired, “do you think i should f*** her tonight?”
“He has asked an assistant repeatedly to pose nude for him , even after being clearly refused every time. He then said “you can find one of your friends to do it? Only if they have a good body” followed by a ‘creepy’ laugh.
“He has made unwanted physical advancements on separate occasions: grabbed the hand, touched the stomach, breasts, shoulders, pulled at bra straps, rubbed the thighs, even after the woman pulled away.”
“He has offered massages to young women working with him.”
“After having advances rejected or being confronted for inappropriate behaviour, he has dismissed an assistant as ‘too young and inexperienced’ or of being naive, and accused her of being unable to deliver on her professional duties.”
“On a different occasion, when confronted by an assistant who witnessed his behaviour, he responded ‘she just looked so sexy.’ Ok maybe, write one mail saying sorry, I got too drunk, will that make it ok? I’m the artist, and she just works as an assistant, it should be ok no? What do you think?” #metoo #indianartworld #timesup #seenandheard.
According to a profile created by the artnet, “Subodh Gupta is a contemporary Indian artist. Working across a variety of media, he is best known for his monumental sculptural works composed of everyday metal objects such as lunch boxes, tin cans, and cookware. Self-described as a representative of a cultural history, his work translates a spiritual quality through the items from which they are composed.”
Earlier, artist Riyas Komu of Kochi Biennale and Sotheby’s MD Gaurav Bhatia were accused of sexual harassment on this Instagram platform. Both Komu and Bhatia stepped down from their positions as their respective organisations initiated inquiries into the charges.