Preeti Chandrakant

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Preeti Chandrakant (Hindi: प्रीती चंद्रकांत) is a Mumbai-born, Zürich-based artist.[1] She refers to herself as a first generation Immaterialist.[2]


She is the first artist worldwide to create and show, ArtBeings - humans who have been sculpted by her over many years, and programmed with Time Pieces - that can be purchased, packaged, insured, displayed, resold and auctioned.[2]

Chandrakant's work explores the interrelationship between experience and transformation. Her training in film and ethnology[3] play a cardinal role in her pioneering, futuristic, artistic practice which takes the form of ArtBeings, Time Pieces and Time Capsules.

Her work has been shown at the Art Basel, the Palais Palffy in Vienna,[4] the Palazzo Pitti in Florence,[5] the Locarno International Film Festival,[6] the Trento International Film Festival,[7] the Festival Max Ophüls Preis, and the Mumbai International Film Festival among others.


Preeti Chandrakant's father was a Time–Life photographer in the 1960s.[8] Her mother, Kamala Chandrakant,[9] was an editor and writer of India's mythological comics Amar Chitra Katha, which have sold over ninety million copies worldwide.[10]

Self trained in art, she took her early lessons from the likes of Achille Bonito Oliva, Brion Gysin, Meret Oppenheim and Robert Mapplethorpe.[2] Throughout her artistic career, Chandrakant has used different names, like Preeti von Roma,[11] Kali,[12] or Preeti C. Kant, in order to delink her identity from her work.

Works until 2009[edit]

In 1987, Chandrakant crossed paths with Swiss author[13] Romano 'Roma' Fasciati who had grown up in the alpine village of Stampa, home to the family of Alberto Giacometti. Jointly they embarked on what was to be a fourteen-year-long[14] precise investigation of human consciousness, which culminated in 2001. Chandrakant calls the works of this period Outer Journeys, Inner Odysseys.[15]

1987 - 2001[edit]

A Goat To The Gods (as Preeti von Roma) is a video collage of behind-the-scenes 'found objects' with Klaus Kinski and Werner Herzog, which depicts "an absurd journey into a jungle of veiled madness" revealing the 'doings' of Kinski and Herzog against the backdrop of real Africa. A Goat To The Gods premiered at the Palais Pallfy in Vienna.[4]

Al Gatun,[16][17] (as Kali) is a black and white feature film, (with the mesmerizing cinematography of Werner Herzog trained cameramen Rainer Klausmann and Beat Presser and the magical music of Popul Vuh)[18] describing "a journey from the real to the surreal", shot with Roma and the people of his village, Stampa. Chandrakant won an award from the Federal office of Culture of the Swiss Confederation[19] as well as the extremely rare[18] special prize of the jury (headed by Karin Brandauer) for a film d'auteur, at the Trento International Film Festival.[7] Al Gatun premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival and the Festival Max Ophüls Preis. In a 1991 review The Neue Zürcher Zeitung described the film as "simply fascinating".

Jesus Goes to India, (as Preeti Chandrakant) is a feature film, describing "a journey from the real, to the surreal, to the abstract, to the absurd", with Roma and Chandrakant's family and friends in India.[15] The film premiered at the Festival Cinéma Tout Ecran in Geneva, the Palazzo Pitti in Florence,[5] Italy and the Mumbai Film Festival. It was broadcast on various television stations, and sub-titled in different languages. The Hindu asserted in a 2001 review of the film that it had "been evoking a multifarious response worldwide".[20]

2001 to 2009[edit]

From 2001 onwards, Preeti Chandrakant and Romano 'Roma' Fasciati's collaboration focused on a body of thought about art,[21] evolution and spirituality[22] and the interrelationship between experience, perception and transformation.[23] It is from this body of thought that arise the impulses for Chandrakant's Living Works of Art, Time Pieces and Time Capsules.

During this period, Chandrakant was invited to the International Conference on Thinking held in Phoenix, Arizona titled 'Creating the Future: Paradigm Shifts in all Disciplines'. There she presented a path breaking piece titled ‘The Shift to the New Being’.

She was later invited to the United Nations,[24] where she presented the concept of a Peace Awakening Force,[25] a forum of the avant-garde of science, art, and spirituality, organized as a complement to the peace-keeping, peace-building, and peace-making efforts of the United Nations.

Her appearance at these two venues was backed by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, as well as the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, and the City Council of Zürich.[25]

In 2002 Preeti Chandrakant began work on her Magnum Opus, the controversial ArtBeings Project.

Current work[edit]


In June 2011, at the Art Basel, Preeti Chandrakant first displayed her ArtBeings. In January 2012, she created quite a controversy[26] at the India Art Fair, when she issued a call to collectors and institutions, to go down in the history of art, as the first ever collector of a Living Work of Art.[1]

Ostensibly up for sale at the India Art fair were six humans - three Europeans and three Indians - who have been sculpted by Chandrakant in interactive happenings and could be purchased packaged, insured, displayed, resold, and auctioned.[2]

The six ArtBeings mingled [27] with curious and sometimes shocked visitors,[28] conversing with them about the process of sculpting that they had undergone and the philosophy and technology underlying this new art form.[29]

With this seminal work, Chandrakant raises vital questions about slavery and freedom. She wryly comments on the commodification of art and the art world’s focus on permanence, draws attention to the human being as a potential work of art, and introduces a new format for artists to explore. “It’s about shifting the interest from object to human” she remarked.[1]

In an interview with the magazine Matters of Art, Chandrakant explained: “Years ago, I saw in Venice a statue completely covered with white gook. I occurred to me then, that, if all those pigeon droppings were chiseled away, the statue would suddenly walk to its freedom. Extrapolated to the ArtBeings, this is what I'm doing.”[2]

“In the 20th century Joseph Beuys said: ‘Everyone is an artist’. In the 21st century I say: ‘Everyone is a potential work of art’. Those willing to be sculpted, undergo a process of instruction before being declared Living Works of Art.”[2]

Said Chandrakant: “The process of sculpting is like a spiritual process and has been practiced in India since time immemorial. I have incorporated that”[26]

To The Hindu she reflected: “Living Works of Art are human beings whose thinking has been made more precise, whose seeing has been made more aware, whose hearing has been sharpened, whose touch has been trained to respond to the subtlest of stimuli, whose tasting has been refined, whose smelling has been heightened, whose sensing has been awoken, whose very materiality has become aware of itself”[28]

Chandrakant clarified: ”No, it's not slavery. The Living Works of Art are entirely free. They can decide if they want to be collected or not. They can decide who collects them.” [1] “This is an attitude, power, control, and patience check for the collector.” [26]

Chandrakant's ArtBeings come programmed - each with specific Time Pieces and aphorisms. They fulfill the conventions of gallery and museum.

There were four interested collectors at the India Art Fair. None of the individuals, however, could fulfill the stringent terms and conditions laid down by the artist.[2]

Chandrakant continues her quest for the first ever collector.

Time Pieces[edit]

A museum or gallery visitor viewing a piece by Preeti Chandrakant won't see an installation, a photograph, a painting, a video or a performance. Instead, the viewer will be drawn into an interactive experience, a Time Piece.

Chandrakant's ephemeral Time Pieces are framed periods of time in which, according to the artist's oral instructions, human beings referred to as Elements engage the viewer in an experience, often by starting out a conversation. These human Elements may be the Living Works of Art that she 'sculpts' in her studios in Zurich and Mumbai, or simply any collaborator who is available, inspired and ready to participate.

Drawn into and actively engaged in a cerebral as well as an emotional experience, the viewer turns into an Element of the piece, and is empowered to become an artist of the piece.

A recent Time Piece of Chandrakant, shown at the ART Basel 2010, is from a series of six pieces called This Art is Immaterial. This series is based on the mother phrase Everyone is a Potential Work of Art.[30] The Time Piece called One Veiled Question has a burka clad Element approaching visitors saying, “Excuse me, may I ask you a question? Am I art?”

If, during the resulting conversation, the visitor utters either the word 'object' or the word 'religion' , he or she is interrupted by the Element, who lifts up the veil, removes the burka, and cries out “Oh no! Did you say the word object?” (or, “Oh no! Did you say the word religion?”) “This is the end! It's all Immaterial!”

The Element then pauses for a moment, before declaring, "You have just been interactive in a Time Piece called One Veiled Question by Preeti Chandrakant."[31]

Chandrakant says, "In fifty years, maybe sooner, most artists will have stopped creating cumbersome objects. Galleries, museums and private collections will be alive with art that breathes."[31]

Chandrakant's 'dematerialized' Time Pieces function fully within the framework of gallery or museum. Time Pieces can be repeated and can be acquired for private and public collections.

Time Capsules[edit]

A Time Capsule is a predefined period of time during which a private meeting between Preeti Chandrakant and the collector takes place. Time capsules may be purchased. They are numbered and the purchase is registered.

A Time Capsule cannot be sold, or passed on. It stays with the collector as a piece of memory, which can be shared with others, or not. It goes with the collector when he or she dies.

Grants and awards[edit]

  • Arts Council of Basel (Kulturfoerderung des Kantons Basel-Stadt)[32]
  • Arts Council of the Bregaglia (Società Culturale di Bregaglia)[32]
  • Arts Council of Graubünden (Kulturfoerderung Graubuenden)[32]
  • Arts Council of Italian Graubünden (Pro Grigioni Italiano)[32]
  • Arts Council Pro Helvetia (Pro Helvetia Schweizer Kulturstiftung)[33]
  • City Council of Zürich (Stadtrat der Stadt Zürich)[34]
  • Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland (Eidgenössisches Departement für auswärtige Angelegenheiten)
  • Swiss National Television (German (DRS), Italian (TSI)[32] and French (TSR) stations)
  • National film prize – emerging filmmaker(National Arts Council of Switzerland – section Film)[19]
  • Special prize of the jury (Trento International Film Festival) Italy. President Karin Brandauer.[35]
  • Audience Favorite Film (Trento International Film Festival) Italy [36]


  1. ^ a b c d Humans for sale, The Week
  2. ^ a b c d e f g HUMANS FOR SALE!, Matters of Art!
  3. ^ Das Magazin March, 1991
  4. ^ a b Archives of Vienna Cultural Service, 14 December 1994
  5. ^ a b "River To River Festival" Archived 2011-07-19 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Bündner Zeitung, 7 June 1991
  7. ^ a b Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 29 April 1991
  8. ^ NRI World, 2002, Interview by Yves Vaz
  9. ^ "Some Works by Kamala Chandrakant"
  10. ^ "Amar Chitra Katha, Tinkle to entertain kids on Net"
  11. ^ Bündner Zeitung, 9 May 1989
  12. ^ "AL Gatun, 1990"
  13. ^ Tages Anzeiger 7 January 1991
  14. ^ Die Südostschweiz 4 Oct 2002
  15. ^ a b The Week 7 Apr 2002
  16. ^ Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 1 February 1991
  17. ^ Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20 April 1994
  18. ^ a b Rivista di Lugano, 17 May 1991
  19. ^ a b Archives Bundesamt für Kultur, 1991
  20. ^ "Truth and Illusion". The Hindu. 30 December 2001. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  21. ^ The Economic Times, 28 March 2002
  22. ^ Catalog, The International Conference on Thinking, 2003
  23. ^ India Today, October, 2002
  24. ^ "Peace Initiative"
  25. ^ a b Tages Anzeiger Zurich, 15 October 2002
  26. ^ a b c Selling yourself to enhance your senses, The Pioneer
  27. ^ Delhi turns state of the art, Hindustan Times Archived 2012-05-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  28. ^ a b We are her Canvas, The Hindu, 10 February 2012
  29. ^ Art Soup for the Soul, The Indian Express
  30. ^ "Preeti Chandrakant at Art Basel, 2010"
  31. ^ a b "Citin - Soirées et culture" Archived 2010-08-20 at the Wayback Machine.
  32. ^ a b c d e Bündner Zeitung, 13 November 1997
  33. ^ "Arts Council Pro Helvetia Archives" Archived 2011-07-07 at the Wayback Machine.
  34. ^ Archives of City Council of Zurich, 2002
  35. ^ Annabelle, June 1991
  36. ^ La Regione Ticino, 17 October 2000