Udita Upadhyaya is an interdisciplinary artist from Mumbai, India. She is also a researcher of consumer behavior and has worked extensively in western India to understand the evolution and rise of materialism, labor, and urban migration in the rural community.

While studying film at Boston University, Upadhyaya sought to uncover the faces of the ordinary survivors of sexual assault and simultaneously empower them by introducing the art of filmmaking as a cathartic tool. Living and working in India, in 2010 Upadhyaya interacted with the Female Sex Workers on G.B. Road in New Delhi. The purpose was to uncover the cyclical nature of the trade, whereby older victims of trafficking become agents of trafficking or pimps in order to keep an income flowing in. The goal was research to better understand this concept and seek ways for rehabilitation of older sex workers.

She is currently living in Chicago, where is studying performance art at SAIC. Her artistic explorations include a study of global cultures and an uncovering of personal and collective histories, both ignited by the passion to transcend cultural, social, and gender binaries.

Personal Statement

My practice addresses how individuals struggle in their comprehension and assertion of selfhood. It examines subtle coercions that result in conformity and loss of identity. I seek to understand social stigma, invisible objects and identities and the trajectory of shame. The work seeks to illuminate the disappeared and those that are relegated to the background.

My work has a large component of research and conversation with the community at hand. In my study of the physical and psychological space of home given global migration, I am working to uncover our complex relationship with our ancestors. The work delves into the battle between public and the private, the individual and the collective (family units, social groups and cultures, nations as a whole). Simultaneously I seek ways to empower the individual and set up their role in transforming a collective

Using my body as the primary material, I attempt to address the trajectories of desire, craving, trauma, and shame and their many intersections. This conflict zone between public and private is the arena for my work: here, I navigate the fertile ground between complicity and rebellion. The work aims to invite a pause into dynamic everyday events and trigger audiences into internal dialogues.

About Water and Salt
A Public Performance, Comfort Station, Chicago, October 2014. This performance addresses the public ownership of the female body.

About Vibhajan (Hindi for division with the objective to distribute)
A Durational Performance, Chicago, November 2014. The performance uses Kumkum/sindoor (a religious and ceremonial powder) to engage the Hindu patriarchy in a dialogue.


Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Institute.