Festival of Culture


Exhibition launch: The Sweet Shop Owners of Calcutta and other ideas

03 June 2019, 6:30 pm–8:00 pm

The Sweet Shop Owners of Calcutta and other ideas by Amit Chaudhuri

Join us for the opening of 'The Sweet Shop Owners of Calcutta and other ideas', which will be on display for the week of the Festival at Waterstones Gower Street.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Festival of Culture Team


Lower Ground Floor Gallery
82 Gower Street

This exhibition by Amit Chaudhuri, novelist, poet, essayist, and musician, of artworks conceptualised and created by him, is being shown for the first time in their entirety in London. It sees a further extension of his interest in working across genres in a way that involves a fresh engagement with the everyday world and its uniqueness. He is an experimenter with, and thinker on, form.

Amit will talk through some of the objects and guests will be treated to a musical performance, accompanied by his guitarist, Adam Moore.

The exhibition is arranged in three parts. Each constitutes an encounter. The first has to do with the portraits of sweet shop owners which you may or may not notice whenever you walk into a mishtir dokan, a sweet shop, in Calcutta. To confront them is to face their mystery, for the owners possess the same air that the ‘great men’ of 19th-century Bengal did. This bit of the exhibition attempts to look at the human figure in its unexpectedness while allowing oneself to be transformed implicitly by its everyday context. The second part, ‘Unusable Gifts’, comprises a particular genre: the sort of gifts we have all received at some point or the other that we have no use for. What should we do with them? The third part of the exhibition, ‘Indian Road Signs’, presents the viewer with road signs we are familiar with, except that these particular signs, created by Chaudhuri, express directives and messages that liberate them from their usual function. The various elements of the exhibition are intended to add up to a cosmology or version of the world.

Amit Chaudhuri is Professor of Contemporary Literature at the University of East Anglia and was a fellow at the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination in Paris, 2018-19,. This year he is Annual Visiting Fellow in the UCL Department of English Language & Literature.

UCL Festival of Culture
Part of the UCL Festival of Culture, a packed, five-day programme of free talks, panel discussions, screenings, performances, and tours. Join us to discover, discuss and be inspired by the exceptional breadth and quality of the arts, humanities and social sciences at UCL.