Partition Memorial Project
I raise consciousness about rape as a weapon through my artwork. I founded the Partition Memorial Project (www.partitionarchive.org) in 2008. It comprises intensive research on 20th century partitions that occurred in India, Bangladesh, Ireland, Bosnia, Korea, Vietnam, Germany, Palestine, and Cyprus.
In my research, I excavate counter-memories from the rubble of these traumatic geopolitical events. Then I make gestures of repair by creating artful and thought-provoking anti-memorials. My mission is to memorialize unbearable memories.
As a socio-political, activist artist, I make art about traumatic geopolitical events, such as partitions of countries, civil and military wars, riots, border violence, genocides, and terrorist attacks.
I am a counter-memory expert, and an anti-memorial specialist. I founded the Counter-Memory Project (www.countermemory.org) in 2021 to encompass the breadth of my artistic practice. It is comprised of projects about 9/11, MeToo, the first and second world wars, the politics of English language, Afghanisation women and children and the Jan 6th riots.
As an example, 9/11 was a traumatic geopolitical event that happened in America. It engendered a certain kind of collective memory-making, which was overtly patriotic in nature. In all that nationalist noise, some narratives got silenced. Specifically, the stunningly high number of Iraqi and Afghani lives lost, which is now in the millions.
I call this the counter-memory of 9/11. My anti-memorial, “Ungrievable Lives: The Ghosts of 9/11” flips traditional memorialization of 9/11 on its head.
Unlike nationalistic monuments, my anti-memorials are quietly provocative, temporary, incorporate visceral materials, and create experiential environments in which viewers can be vulnerable with unbearable and difficult memories with empathy.
In short, I make “good trouble” with my anti-memorials.
I hope to expand my art practice to engage with the weaponization of rape in the conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries in Iraq, Syria, Rwanda, East Timor, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Congo, and other countries.
I have started work on a new art endeavor, The Nirbhaya Project (www.nirbhaya.org), in which I aim to raise awareness about the prevalence of rape in South Asia and connect it to the international #MeToo movement.
I am joining the South Asia Institute in Chicago as a Senior Curator. I have curated several art exhibitions as part of my curatorial project, Transdiasporic Art Practices (www.transdiaspora.org) since 2006. I aim to continue my curatorial work as an independent curator as well.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Pritika is an artist, curator, and writer. Currently Chicago-based, Pritika has an MFA in Studio Art from University of Wisconsin – Madison, as well as an MA in Visual Culture and Gender Studies.
Pritika’s works are featured in prestigious museum and corporate collections, such as the Weismann Museum, American Swedish Institute, the Target Corp, in Minneapolis, MN; in addition to several private collections.
Pritika has shown her works nationally and internationally in group and solo exhibitions in the Weismann Museum in Minneapolis, Queens Museum in New York, the Hunterdon Museum in New Jersey, the Islip Art Museum in Long Island, Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, the DoVA Temporary in University of Chicago, the Brodsky Center in Rutgers University, and the Cambridge Art Gallery in Massachussets.
Pritika is the recipient of a Vilas International Travel Fellowship, an Edith and Sinaiko Frank Fellowship for a Woman in the Arts, a Wisconsin Arts Board grant, and a Minnesota State Arts Board grant. Pritika has taught at Macalester College, and College of Visual Arts, both in St. Paul, Minnesota. Published scholarship about Pritika’s work has come out in peer-reviewed research publications and various exhibition catalogs.
Pritika has presented her studio research projects at various national conferences, such as, the International Arts Symposium at NYU, The Contested Terrains of Globalization at UC-Irvine and the South Asian Conference at UW-Madison. Pritika also participates in panels, and gives lectures and artist talks about her work by invitation.
© Pritika Chowdhry