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Prajna Desai

post Editorial Team C-MAP Fellow for Asia | Department of Architecture and Design The Museum of Modern Art

Prajna Desai is an author and curator, peregrine since 2009. Drawn to intellectual history, her research intervenes in canonised and fossilised standards of aesthetics by exploring fringe and/or overlooked practices. One outcome was the book The Indecisive Chicken: Stories and recipes from eight Dharavi cooks (2015) for Dharavi Biennale 2015, extended during a residency as FICA-INIVA Curatorial Fellow at Delfina Foundation in 2014. Presently, she is working on three projects about South Asia and Japan. A study of landscape as a political and philosophical thread across artistic practices in India since the founding of Santiniketan in Bengal, realised as Wooden Horse in Boggy Land: Four Propositions about Landscape (2017) at Project 88, Mumbai. Post-Fukushima landscape imaginaries in four bodies of photographic work from Japan, Australia, Canada, and India, mounted synoptically as Before Now, Then: Picturing Loss in Contemporary Japanese Photography for Focus Photography Festival Mumbai 2017. And a polemical take on Pan-Asianism in wartime Japanese magazines, 1941-45. She holds a PhD in the History of Art from Yale University and has previously taught at Stern College for Women, New York and USC, Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, Art in America, Frieze, Aperture, tcj.com, Art India, and Caravan. As MoMA C-MAP Fellow for Asia, her research and writing engage with artistic benchmarks in Asia that stand in tension between national narratives and Euro-American ‘isms’ to argue for new discursive spaces within existing accounts of 20th and 21st century art. She is also collaborating on an upcoming MoMA exhibition about South Asia and modern architecture scheduled for 2020-21.