Currently filling the museum’s Sculpture Court as part of We the People: New Art from the Collection is Subodh Gupta’s This is not a fountain. The title, a reference to René Magritte’s 1929 painting La Trahison des images (Ceci n'est pas une pipe) (The Treachery of images [This is not a pipe]), is misleading. Gupta’s sculpture is, in fact, a fountain, complete with a number of working spigots that rise from a mass of recycled pots and pans.
Gupta collected these pots and pans from families all over India, which turned out to be a more complicated procedure than he initially anticipated. The artist recounted,
“When I asked [families] for something, they would laugh. So [I negotiated]: Look I would like to have this pot, but I know this is your pot and you don’t want to give it to me. I will buy a new pot for you, and replace what I take. It was then that they started giving me objects.”
The often dented and cracked surfaces of the utensils Gupta acquired tell the stories of their former owners and the economic realities of their lives. For the artist, food and the tools used to make it offer a means to address themes ranging from the place of ritual in everyday life to the transformation of family and community in our contemporary era.