An interview with Sunil Gupta conducted 2017 March 31 and April 1, by Theodore Kerr, for the Archives of American Art's Visual Arts and the AIDS Epidemic: An Oral History Project, at the Visual AIDS office and the Archives of American Art office in New York, New York.
Gupta speaks of his childhood in Dehli, India; early same-sex sexual experiences; moving to Canada at age 15; adjusting to North American same-sex practices; discovering gay liberation ideology at Dawson College; working at a bathhouse and in the Canadian Army Reserves; his first photographic work for a gay newsletter in college; his first serious romantic relationships; dropping out of Columbia University's MBA program to take photography courses at the New School; moving to London and taking a master's in photography at the Royal College of Art; photography sessions with gay men in London and India; early political and artistic responses to HIV/AIDS in London; the stigma of HIV/AIDS in India; the genesis and significance of images from his book Queer; his development of race-consciousness and local political activity in London in the mid-1980s; being diagnosed with HIV; navigating London's gay and HIV-positive landscapes in the 1990s; living and working in India in the mid-2000s; HIV/AIDS care and activism in India; becoming a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS in the Indian media; India's cultures of same-sex desire and queerness; photographing for his exhibitions Sun City and Love Undetectable; marrying his current partner, Jaran Singh, in 2011; and Singh's and his own current academic research. Gupta also recalls Lisette Model, Philippe Halsman, George Tice, Bill Brandt, Jean Fraser, Kaucyila Brooke, John di Stefano, Jan Zita Grover, Hinda Schuman, Doug Ischar, Simon Watney, Cindy Patton, Sean Strub, and others.
Biographical / Historical:
Sunil Gupta (1953- ) is a photographer, educator, and curator based in London, England and New Delhi, India. Theodore Kerr (1979- ) is a writer and organizer in New York, New York.
This interview is part of the Archives of American Art Oral History Program, started in 1958 to document the history of the visual arts in the United States, primarily through interviews with artists, historians, dealers, critics and administrators.