Pritika Chowdhry is an artist, curator and writer. Her work focuses on traumatic geopolitical events such as partitions of countries, civil and military wars, riots, border violence, genocides and terrorist attacks. Based in Chicago, her work has been exhibited across the US as well as in prestigious museum and corporate collections such as the Weismann Museum, American Swedish Institute and the Target Corp in Minneapolis. Chowdhry is a counter-memory expert and much of her work focuses on the Partition of India in 1947.
These are a few of Pritika Chowdhry’s favourite things…
My family is my absolute favourite thing — my husband, my bonus son, my daughter, and our three dogs. Funny story, I met my husband a few years back and I had two dogs at that time. I made it clear that I was a package deal, my dogs come with me and sleep with me in my bed. Our first date was brunch (with the dogs) but on the morning of our date, one of my dogs had the worst upset tummy. I wanted to cancel and go to the vet, but my now-husband assured me he knew just what to do. Most men show up to a first date with flowers, but he showed up with a can of prescription dog food, and from that moment I just knew this was the guy. He was the one. Now, we have a happy little family with our three dogs and two human puppies!
My artwork is my passion and purpose; it is my life’s work, my legacy. It’s an instrument of world change. I like to describe it as good trouble because it challenges the mainstream history and memory of geopolitical events. As a postcolonial feminist artist, I create anti-memorials to traumatic geopolitical events such as the Partition of India and 9/11, by excavating the counter-memories of the events, through the dual lenses of post-memory and diasporic dislocation.
My dogs are my first children; I’ve had the oldest two since before I met my husband. We brought home our third dog on the day I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, so the dog and my daughter will be forever connected. Our dogs are so important to us that they were included in our wedding invitation — we were so focused on getting their little paw prints right, that we actually missed that the year was wrong on our wedding invitation… We just rolled with it, hand-corrected the year and sent them out. Our friends know we are crazy dog people.
I have several bookshelves packed tight with all kinds of books; historical fiction, memoirs, classics, literature by South Asian authors and authors from countries all around the world, art history books, contemporary art books, scholarly books on memory culture, feminism, exhibition catalogues, art magazines and journals, dog training books… the list goes on. I draw my inspiration from the books I read. The Other Side of Silence by Urvashi Butalia presents path-breaking feminist historiography of the Partition of India, and centres on the experiences of women; Present Pasts by Andreas Huyssen analyses the politics of memory, monuments, and artworks; Ungrievable Lives by Judith Butler is a poetic critique of the invisible victims of America’s War on Terror in the Middle East. My copies of these books are full of annotations and highlighted because they inform my work deeply.
Woman Made Gallery
The Woman Made Gallery — which has just celebrated its 30th birthday — is my favourite organisation and the longest-running feminist art gallery in Chicago. Founded in 1992, it is a unique non-profit art space for women and femme-identified artists that is founded on the principles of intersectional feminism, building allies and solidarity, and elevating artwork that focuses on women’s unique experiences and challenges. The founder, Beate Minkovski, is a charismatic champion of women artists of colour and LGBTQ artists. She was so welcoming and supportive of me when I first started my journey as an emerging artist in the early 2000s. Now, the gallery is run by the next generation of women artists and arts administrators and is still as inviting and inspirational as when I joined around 20 years ago.
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