Prajna Desai – Keynote Speaker

Art historian, critic, curator, and educator

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Specialist Subjects

  • Creative intelligence & entrepreneurship
  • Collaborative success
  • Diversity & innovation
  • Overcoming adversity & exclusion
  • Mastering daisy chain thinking


  • English
  • Hindi


Prajna’s thinking and work unfolds at the intersection of culture, environment, and progressive storytelling for change. She is committed to exploring and sharing how visionary cultural practices bend, meet, and mingle in transformative ways with rapidly changing practices of work, productivity, and knowledge production. Over the past fifteen years, her journey has involved research and leadership positions within the corporate art world in diversity-driven institutional initiatives, gallery exhibitions, and scholarship; in academia through teaching and publishing; and by way of large-scale public programming and curatorial for non-profit organisations, in places as varied as Latin America, Japan, the United States, and India. Some of these projects include her work for Venice Architecture Biennale 2021, Contemporary and Modern Art Perspectives and the Department of Architecture & Design, MoMA, New York; Focus Photography Festival Mumbai; and Dharavi Biennale, Mumbai, which evolved into a well-received book on diversity, aesthetics, and food histories, The Indecisive Chicken: Stories and recipes of eight Dharavi Cooks (Dharavi Biennale with Wellcome Trust UK, 2015).

Prajna holds a PhD in the History of Art from Yale University with a specialisation in Architecture as well as Masters in Art History and English Literature respectively from Southern Methodist University and Mumbai University. She is a Curatorial/Research Fellow alumnus of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA, New York), Delfina Foundation (London), Oslo Open, Dharavi Biennale (Mumbai), and Total Museum of Contemporary Art (TMCA, Seoul). She has taught at post-graduate programmes in the School of Visual Arts (New York), University of Southern California (Los Angeles), Stern College for Women, Yeshiva University (NYC) and CSI, CUNY (New York), and Rachana Sansad Academy of Architecture (Mumbai). Her writing has appeared in art world and academic anthologies, international art magazines & journals, as well as long form publications devoted to contemporary culture and politics, such as but not limited to Artforum, Art in America, Frieze, Aperture, opendemocracyUK, Guernica, and Caravan.

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