Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora


NEW YORK, April 26, 2017 — Asia Society Museum in New York shines a spotlight on the work of nineteen contemporary artists from the South Asian diaspora. As individuals living between worlds, diasporic artists often negotiate notions of home and issues relating to migration, gender, race, and memory in their practice. Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora, organized by Asia Society Museum with the support of the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, will be on view from June 27 to August 6, 2017. 

On the occasion of the seventieth anniversary of independence of the Indian Subcontinent from the British Empire, this exhibition, first proposed by Jaishri Abichandani, founder of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective, provides a timely platform to celebrate these artists and their diverse perspectives, notably in response to the recent rise of nationalism and xenophobia that has swept the globe.

“Seen in the context of the turbulent state of affairs for immigrant populations, the work of diasporic artists working and living between worlds has taken on a new urgency in counterbalancing the retreat into simplistic identity politics and xenophobia,” said Boon Hui Tan, Asia Society Vice President for Global Arts & Cultural Programs and Director of Asia Society Museum. “Through a number of mediums, including photography, sculpture, and video, the artists featured in Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions challenge prevailing stereotypes and assumptions of South Asian identities in the United States today.”

The artists, all living in the United States, represent a microcosm of the American experience and their respective practices across four decades have collectively impacted the development of contemporary art in the United States.

The artists reflect the diverse demographics of South Asia and their work engages the nuanced cultural specificities of the region, as well as the racial and cross-cultural tensions in the current sociopolitical climate.

Artists in the exhibition include:

  • Jaishri Abichandani (b. 1969 in Mumbai, India. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY)
  • Anila Quayyum Agha (b. 1965 in Lahore, Pakistan. Lives and works in Indianapolis, IN)
  • Mequitta Ahuja (b. 1976 in Grand Rapids, MI. Lives and works in Baltimore, MD)
  • Rina Banerjee (b. 1963 in Calcutta, India. Lives and works in New York, NY) 
  • Khalil Chishtee (b. 1964 in Lahore, Pakistan. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY)
  • Ruby Chishti (b. 1963 in Multan, Pakistan. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY)
  • Allan deSouza (b. 1958 in Nairobi, Kenya. Lives and works, in Los Angeles, CA) 
  • Chitra Ganesh (b. 1975 in Brooklyn, NY. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) 
  • Mariam Ghani (b. 1978 in New York, NY. Lives and works in New York, NY) 
  • Vandana Jain (b. 1975 in Queens, NY. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) 
  • Gautam Kansara (b. 1979 in London, England. Lives and works in Brooklyn, NY) 
  • Annu Palakunnathu Matthew (b. 1964 in Stourport, England. Lives and works in Providence, RI) 
  • Naeem Mohaiemen (b. 1969 in London, England. Lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and New York, NY)
  • Kanishka Raja (b. 1969 in Calcutta, India. Lives and works in New York, NY, and Kolkata, India) 
  • Tenzing Rigdol (b. 1982 in Kathmandu, Nepal. Lives and works in New York, NY) 
  • Shahzia Sikander (b. 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan. Lives and works in New York, NY)
  • Jaret Vadera (b. 1976 in Toronto, Canada. Lives and works in New York, Toronto, and India) 
  • Palden Weinreb (b. 1982 in New York, NY. Lives and works in New York, NY)
  • Zarina (b. 1937 in Aligarh, India. Lives and works in New York, NY)

The artist selection was made by Boon Hui Tan and Lawrence-Minh Davis, Curator, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center. Together they formed the curatorial committee with Abichandani and Michelle Yun, Senior Curator for Modern and Contemporary Art, Asia Society.