for upward mobility, gupta collaborated with fellow artist deshaundon jeanes to photograph a staircase inside the former corcoran gallery of art. constructed in beaux-arts signature style, the stairs match the gallery’s marble floors and are flanked by polished brass railings and an american flag. yet the stairs lead nowhere—a whitewashed wooden board that frames a once-used doorway is the only destination.
gupta uses this image as a classic example of a “thomasson,” a term coined by japanese artist genpei akasegawa to denote a useless object that may be perceived as a conceptual artwork. upward mobility suggests an architectural leftover, a relic that has no purpose but is still maintained.
at the scale it is presented, the 50-foot banner is much larger than life but also strangely illusive. the work makes it difficult to ignore the ideals of the american dream and questions its purpose and preservation.
this project was comisioned by the washington project for the arts and made possible with the support of the dc commission on the arts and humanities’ public art building communities grant program.