The Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art is pleased to announce that Prajna Desai has been selected as the FICA Research Fellow 2014.

The jury included Dr. Irit Rogoff and Dr. Stefan Nowotny (Goldsmiths), Tessa Jackson and Grant Watson (Iniva), Aaron Cezar (Delfina), and Vidya Shivadas and Bhooma Padmanabhan (FICA).

Prajna Desai is a writer and curator based out of Mumbai. With a background in writing and teaching, her current engagement is with the Dharavi Biennale 2015 involving the contemporary cultural politics of food. Her strong agenda to re-look at curatorial propositions that expand beyond gallery practice or the visual, into exploring the links between food, pleasure, sex, and nutrition struck a chord with the jury who found her to be a strong candidate for this year’s curatorial-research programme. The jury also found several common fields of interest between the work that is going on at each of the London institutions and the possibilities offered by her practice, and found that this exchange may be very beneficial to her curatorial career at this point in time.

As part of FICA Research Fellowship Desai will spend three months in residency at Delfina Foundation, London, and participate in seminars, programmes and other activities with our three partner organisations - Goldsmith’s Curatorial/Knowledge, Delfina Foundation and Iniva. During this time she will also get the opportunity to extend her curatorial research around her ongoing project at Dharavi Biennale, present her research to an audience in London, and upon her return develop a “virtual exhibition” of her research which will be presented at FICA next year.

Desai completed her BA from St.Xaviers College, Mumbai, and MA from University of Mumbai, both in English Literature, and got her second masters in History of Art from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas. She received her Ph.D. in History of Art from Yale University in 2009 for her dissertation titled “Read, See, Do: Palenque’s Palace, Mexico (c.AD 647-720) and the Materiality of Knowledge”. As a professional in the field she has worked as a Researcher and Writer with Christies Mumbai, and lectured in various capacities at College of Staten Island, CUNY, New York; Stern College of Women, Yeshiva University, New York; University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and Rachna Sansad Academy of Architecture, Mumbai. As a writer she has contributed to various magazines including Art in America, Aperture Magazine, The Comics Journal and Frieze. She will be curating two exhibitions in Mumbai next year, at Project 88 and Mumbai Art Room respectively about India and WWII and cultural scenographies of emotion.

The 2014 Fellowship
The fellowship is made possible through collaborating with the Department of Visual Cultures and the PhD. Program in Curatorial/Knowledge, Goldsmiths, University of London; Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts); and The Delfina Foundation, London.
The Research Fellowship 2014 aims to provide an opportunity for curatorial research in the field of contemporary art and visual cultures. The Fellowship is open to Indian scholars who are looking at a short, intensive programme to work with some of the premier research and teaching institutions of the world, develop their research methodologies, and professionally network with international scholars and curators. This would be a mentored programme during which time the fellow will get to develop a project in context with the ongoing research projects at the three London institutions. Additionally, they will be given an opportunity to present their conceptual and methodological ideas that were developed during the residency upon their return to India.
 The recipient receives: A fully sponsored 10-12 week residency in London (September-December 2014) with access to Goldsmiths’ post-graduate classes and Curatorial/Knowledge seminars, the opportunity to participate in Iniva and Delfina’s programming, personal mentoring, opportunities to meet fellow research scholars, artists and a network of professionals in the field of contemporary art in London.