Exhibitions - Living As A Nation

Utsa Hazarika
Living As A Nation

10.02.21 – 02.13.22

Year of Uncertainty (YoU)

On a black podium a clear plexiglass box houses a plant growing out of a thin layer of soil. The plexiglass box has four metal vents and UV lights feeding the plant from above. The UV light in the box is bright and reflecting pinkish-purple light into the room. Framing the box is two sheets of lime-green plexiglass that have a cut-out mosaic pattern.

Image: Installation view documenting stages of development from October to December 2021, "Utsa Hazarika: Living as a Nation", Queens Museum. Photo credit: Hai Zhang.

For her Year of Uncertainty project, Artist-In-Residence Utsa Hazarika expands a body of artwork, research, and analysis on the subject of diasporic Desi identity.


Listen to Utsa Hazarika’s exhibition soundtrack and artist audio guide:



Click here to discover the samples/bibliography in order of appearance.


Living As A Nation explores the connections that are forged by Desi people outside of the borders of South Asian nation states. Developing forms of documentation and storytelling that move beyond the limits of academic social research, the artist asks: How do you chart the complexity of culture that is dislocated from its place of origin? What is the power of collective memory to withstand migration and political acts of disempowerment or erasure?


Hazarika has planned for the contents of her gallery to shift and grow over the course of the Year of Uncertainty’s three phases, to reveal different combinations of still and moving images, sculpture, and ephemera configured to embody and encourage reflection on spatial and temporal transits. These evolving forms hold histories, contemporary narratives, and personal reflections. Among the artist’s research areas are new movements for equality emerging in South Asia; archival maps of South Asia that explore its shifting conceptual terrain; narratives of historical and contemporary South Asian culture in Britain; and the Desi art and activism of community organizations in Queens, such as YoU Community Partner, Sakhi. In commingling them together, Hazarika acknowledges the multiplicity of truth, problems of representation, and the inextricable relationships between subjectivity and belonging.


Utsa Hazarika is an artist and writer. Her research-based practice ranges across video, installation and photography, and explores how an interdisciplinary dialogue between art and anthropology can push us to think about power, memory and resistance. Her work has been exhibited at venues in India and the United States, and she has been the recipient of residencies and fellowships internationally, including by the Asian Cultural Council, MASS MoCA, Lijiang Studio, and Khoj International Artists’ Association. Her art and academic research has been published in Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, Trans Asia Photography Review, and The Caravan. Hazarika is based in Queens, NY.


The Year of Uncertainty artist residencies and community partnerships are made possible by generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Lambent Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation.


Major funding for the Queens Museum is generously provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature.