Artistic Director 2019

Chennai Photo Biennale, an international photography Biennale to be held from 22 Feb – 24 Mar 2019, is pleased to announce Pushpamala N. as the Artistic Director of the 2nd edition.


Often known as “the most entertaining artist-iconoclast of contemporary Indian art”, Pushpamala is one of the pioneers of conceptual art in India and a renowned photo and video-performance artist, sculptor, writer, curator and provocateur. She is  known especially for her sharp feminist work, her rejection of authenticity and embracing of multiple realities. In her collaborations with writers, theatre directors and filmmakers, she seeks to subvert the dominant discourse.


Starting her career as a narrative sculptor, she began working in staged photography and photo-performance in the mid-1990s and has been a major influence on the photography scene in the country. Her richly layered and inventive work uses the idea of cultural memory to explore contemporary society with irony and wit. She exhibits widely in India and abroad in solo shows, biennales and museum shows. In 1996 she created a fictional institute in Bengaluru named Somberikatte (Idler’s Platform in Kannada) through which she conducts talks and seminars.

Pushpamala N. lives in Bangalore and her work can be seen at

Biennale Director, Varun Gupta says:

“We are delighted with Pushpamala’s appointment as Artistic Director of the 2nd edition of the Chennai Photo Biennale. As one of the country’s most accomplished artists, Pushpamala will bring a fresh perspective that will challenge conventional notions surrounding the photographic image.”

Pushpamala says,

I am honoured to be appointed Artistic Director of the 2nd Chennai Photo Biennale in 2019. I think it is an unconventional choice to invite me to curate the photo biennale and I hope to bring in some of my own thoughts and interests as a conceptual artist to the perception of photographic practice today. I believe that photography in its extended uses has been, more than any other art form, a witness of human activity and a continuing archive of modern life ever since its invention. Susan Sontag talks of photography as a ‘language’ : the Biennale will explore different languages of photography. Chennai itself as a location, has been an ancient sea port, an important colonial capital and is one of the major metros of the country, known for its social justice movements, its intellectual and cultural traditions, and its famous film industry. The Biennale will address some of those areas. As Artistic Director I am interested in provoking questions about the meaning of photography today in an age of new media: how in its various forms, pure and impure, old and new, it can engage with the world. I am excited to work together with a galaxy of artists from India and around the world who use the medium thoughtfully and innovatively”

Solo Shows and Art Biennales

Pushpamala has had solo shows at Chemould Prescott Road, Mumbai; Nature Morte Delhi; Gallery Sumukha Bengaluru; Seagull Foundation Kolkata; Bose Pacia Gallery New York, USA; Gund Gallery, Kenyon University, Ohio, USA; Galerie Zurcher, Paris, France;  Espace Croise, France; 1×1 Gallery, Dubai; SIPF- Singapore International Film Festival 2015.

Pushpamala’s work has been featured in important Art Biennales worldwide such as the Busan Biennale 2016 (S Korea); Colombo Art Biennale 2016 ( Srilanka); Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2014, Kochi (India) ; Prospect.3 New Orleans (USA) 2014; Yokohama Triennale ( Japan) 2005; the First Johannesburg Biennale 1995 (South Africa); and the VI Triennale India 1986  – in museum shows at the Tate Modern. Whitechapel Art Gallery and Saatchi Art Gallery (London, UK), Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Seattle Museum and Art Institute of Chicago (USA), Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada), Museo Tamayo (Mexico), Kunstmuseum Bern (Switzerland), CaixaForum Barcelona and Institut Valencià d’Art Modern (Spain), MAXXI Museum (Rome, Italy), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo, Japan), National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art (South Korea), National Portrait Gallery (Canberra, Australia), Devi Art Foundation and National Gallery of Modern Art (Delhi, India)-  in international photography festivals such as Fotofest, Houston, ( USA) 2018; Auckland Festival of Photography 2017, (New Zealand); Chobi Mela 2017 (Dhaka, Bangladesh); PHotoEspaña (Madrid, Spain), Delhi Photo Festival 2013; Singapore International Photography Festival 2008; Noorderlicht Photofestival 2006 (Netherlands) and Fotofluss (Austria).

Her short films have been shown in the Forum Expanded, Berlinale 2016, (Germany) ; First Xi’an Silk Road International Film Festival 2014 (China), Ikono On Air Festival 2013 (in 30 countries); First Asian Hot Shots Festival 2001 (Berlin, Germany), 4th Sguardi Altrove Women’s Film Festival 2007 (Milan, Italy) and Cinema Texas 9 and 11 2004-2006 ( Austin, USA).


She is the recipient of the National Award 1984, Gold Medal at the VI Triennale India 1986, Karnataka Rajyotsava Award 1986, Karnataka Shilpa Kala Akademi Award 1997,the Karnataka State Jakanachari Award 2015 and honours such as the Rockefeller Fellowship at Bellagio in 2005, Centre Pompidou Residency in Paris 2009, French Embassy Residency in Paris 2005, India Foundation for the Arts Fellow in 1999 and 2016, and Charles Wallace India Scholar in London, 1992.


Her work is part of significant museum collections: MOMA New York, USA; SAM – Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, USA; Arthur M Sackler Gallery, Harvard Art Museums, Harvard University, Boston, USA; Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, USA; Manchester City Art Galleries, UK; Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, Bradford, UK; Saatchi and Saatchi, London UK; Centre Pompidou, Paris, France; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada; QAGOMA – Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia; NGA – National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia; AGNSW – Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia; Shoes or no Shoes Museum, Belgium
Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi; National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi; Devi Art Foundation, New Delhi; Kiran Nadar Museum of Arts KNMA, New Delhi.