Somerset House Studios resident

Jemma Desai

Cultural worker, facilitator and artist.

Jemma Desai is a cultural worker, somatic facilitator and artist (in as much as they see being an artist, as James Baldwin did as being on an ongoing search for integrity). Herwork spans artistic and administrative practice, writing, curation, performance. In this work she is (re)searching for new ways to make and circulate inside and outside cultural production, with and against institutions. Through her practice she seeks places and people to question the role of testimony, desire and political commitment in the social relations that make cultural work.

She is interested in questions of care and form in the making, circulating and administering of artistic practices. Through her work she attempts a commitment to considering how form can be taken seriously beyond aesthetics, to transmute standard bureaucratic processes beyond reformist change, informing abolitionist practices of freedom and solidarity. She hashave an ongoing interest in the epistolary; the intimacy it invites and the desires it protects and reveals.

Through this interest she hashave produced a soma of itinerant programming, performance and criticism which she understand as a form of ‘critical yearning.’ Working through, or close to the body, thiswork encompasses first person writing, curating and performance, as well as material and social practices to form an embodied archive of desires for change, belonging and being longing.

During her time at Somerset House studios she will be deepening her interests in performance, and experimenting with new formations for her writing to complete a body of work called what do we want from each other after we have told our stories.