Exploring identity questions with mushrooms

Photographs: Regula Bearth © ZHdK

Student Portrait Ishita Chakraborty

The art of fine arts student Ishita Chakraborty is strongly influenced by her own migration history. In 2021 she will be exhibiting her work at the Biennale Internationale de Casablanca.


Giulia Adagazza:What made you do a Master of Fine Arts?
Ishita Chakraborty: I have already done a Master of Fine Arts at Rabindra Bharati University in Kolkata, India. Afterwards, I taught design at Amity University Kolkata and applied for an artist-in-residence programme at Gastatelier Krone in Aarau. I stayed in Switzerland for half a year and also attended ZHdK. I immediately felt at home here and knew that I wanted to return. Now it has worked out and it is great to be a student again.

Has the programme met your expectations?
Yes. I particularly like the fact that hierarchies at ZHdK are very flat and that free thinking is encouraged. These were important prerequisites for me to study at a European university.

What inspires you?
When I was a child, our family very often relocated within India and now I have emigrated to Europe. My personal migration story has had a major impact on my art. Identity and language are the cornerstones of my artistic work.

What are your current projects?
I am continuing to develop my work “What Leaf? What Mushroom?” This installation consists of thousands of small ceramic mushrooms and illumines themes such as migration, identityand the coexistence of different cultures. How do you find your place in a new culture with a migration background? As an immigrant,do you always remain part of a small community within a large community? I am still asking myself these questions today. One day the installation will consist of ten thousand mushrooms. I am planning workshops with immigrants at the Autonome Schule Zürich where we will be creating mushrooms together. I am absolutely delighted to be able to exhibit my work at the Biennale Internationale de Casablanca in 2021.

Which artwork inspired you most recently?
The installation “Covering Letter” by the contemporary Indian artist Jitish Kallat, which I saw at the Venice Biennale. He projects a letterfrom Gandhi to Hitler onto a waterfall of smoke. This kind of political art thrills me.

Further student portraits published in Zett
Giulia Adagazza was a project manager at ZHdK University Communications.
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