Neha Choksi (b. 1973)
A multidisciplinary artist based in Los Angeles and Mumbai, Neha Choksi works with performance-based film and video art, incorporating sculpture, photography and paper-based art. Often taking the form of physical situations and interventions, her art seeks to create a space for poetry, absurdity and humour in the lives of both its viewers and its subjects. Choksi’s work is rooted in simple, playful and memorable propositions based on philosophical questions about existence. It involves creating physical actions within unconventional yet poetic settings, which ultimately conclude with erasure or transformation.
Born in Belleville, New Jersey, Choksi grew up in Mumbai but returned to the US for her college education. In 1997 she completed a double major in art and Greek from the University of California, Los Angeles and in 2000, a master’s in classics from Columbia University, New York. A deep interest in poetry underpinned both her choice of classics for her postgraduate studies and her subsequent practice in the visual and performative arts.
A series of three video works titled Trilogy on Absenting: Leaf Fall, Minds to Lose, Iceboat (2007–13) embodies Choski’s most important concerns around time, loss, transience, memory, consciousness and transformation. In Leaf Fall (2007–8), a troop of actors pluck a tree bare over the course of a day, leaving behind a single autumnal leaf, which comes into prominence only in the absence of the others. Her thoughts on presence and absence found expression in their literal and physical sense in Minds to Lose (2008-11), during which she used anesthetics to investigate the universality of the experience of unconsciousness. Themes of transience and self-erasure took centre stage in Iceboat (2012–13), which showed the artist rowing a boat made of ice until it melts completely into the lake on which it was rowed. Later works include the multi-channel film Faith in Friction (2017), shot on the construction site of an expansive and modern Jain ashram. It involved a collaboration with several friends, using physical, gestural and vocal dialogue to explore the structures and limits of self-reliance and interdependence. The site of the work was deliberately chosen to inquire into the philosophy of individualism, central to many spiritual traditions and Western models of psychotherapy.
Choksi’s work has featured in several notable group and solo exhibitions at venues and events such as the Asia Pacific Triennial, Brisbane and the Shanghai Biennale in 2012; the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in 2014; the Hayward Gallery Project Space, London, in 2015; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, in 2018; and the Dhaka Art Summit in 2016, 2018 and 2020. Choksi was honoured with the California Community Foundation Fellowship for Visual Artists in 2019 and the Individual Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles in 2021. In 2017, she also won the India Today Best New Media Artist of the Year award.
As of this writing, Choksi continues to live and work between Mumbai and Los Angeles, where she also serves as one of the editors of the arts journal X-TRA. Her work is represented by Project 88 in Mumbai.
Biswas, Allie. “Neha Choksi: ‘Transformations Necessitate Lost Pasts and Renewals of Future Hopes’.” Studio International, December 5, 2017. https://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/neha-choksi-interview
California Community Foundation. n. d. “Neha Choksi: 2019 Fellowship for Visual Artists.” March 11, 2019. https://www.calfund.org/nonprofits/featured-funds/fva/2019-gallery/neha-choksi/
Hammer Museum. n. d. “Neha Choksi.” Accessed October 11, 2020. https://hammer.ucla.edu/exhibitions/2018/made-in-la-2018/neha-choksi
Manchester Art Gallery. n. d. “Neha Choksi.” Accessed 11, 2020. https://manchesterartgallery.org/exhibitions-and-events/exhibition/neha-choksi/
Neha Choksi. n. d. “BIO.” Accessed October 11, 2020. https://www.nehachoksi.com/about
Ocula. n. d. “Neha Choksi.” Accessed October, 2020. https://ocula.com/artists/neha-choksi/