Jump to content

Cripping the Galleries | Janhavi Khemka

July 06, 202412:00 pm - 3:00 pm

ASL and CART available

About the Event

Cripping the Galleries is a series of live public programs featuring local artists activating museums through the lens of crip culture, access, and belonging.* Cripping the Galleries is hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art, in close collaboration with Bodies of Work: A Network of Disability Art and Culture.   

For this edition of Cripping the Galleries, artist Janhavi Khemka performs Impress/ion, 2024. During this intimate, participatory performance, Khemka invites audience members to sit with her, three at a time, as she asks each audience member to “teach her” their individual first names. Depending on vision and vibrations perceivable through touch, participants can expect to spend a total of four minutes each until the group reaches a consensus on each learned name. The performance lasts three hours, until the artist is depleted of energy.

Please note: While this is a participatory performance, we invite audience members to choose to engage with it or remain a viewer of the work.

American Sign Language (ASL) and English CART captioning are available for this event.

ASL provided.

* Crip as a noun is pejorative, reclaimed by disabled people who embrace it as an outsider identity with an edge. To crip or cripping as a verb means to expose oppressive systems of normalcy and to imagine a world otherwise.

About the Artist

Born in 1993 in Varanasi, India, Janhavi Khemka is an interdisciplinary artist who graduated with a BFA in Painting from the Faculty of Visual Art, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, in 2015, and an MFA in Graphics from Kala Bhavana, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, in 2017. She also studied Studio Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois, in 2023.

With her impaired hearing, Khemka looks at disability not as a disadvantage, but as a lens through which one can see, understand, and negotiate with the world in a different way. Each work is an expression of her unique ways of interacting with the world without acoustic sensation. Khemka’s art practice is characterized by her thoughtful choice of medium to translate her perception. Most of her work is rooted in personal memories, her physic, and physical life. She calls her works as small dots in the vast map of mind and memory, constituted by the particular use of the medium. The shifting from one medium to another, from printmaking to stop-motion to vibrational installation, is, therefore, understood as the expanse of the sensory map. However, although autobiographical elements are strongly present, her work speaks of her dreams of overcoming the shortcoming, creating a space for spontaneous dialogue between the artist and the audience. Presently working from Chicago, Khemka has been creating live performances that question the meaning of language and how we understand it.

About Our Partner

Bodies of Work is a consortium of four programs at three Chicago organizations that share a commitment to programming that is distinguished by its integration of disability artistry, academics, and activism:

  • Program on Disability Art, Culture, and Humanities and the Disability Cultural Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago;
  • Disability Culture Activism Lab at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago;
  • Art and Culture Project at Access Living.

Along with partnering artists and organizations, Bodies of Work serves as a catalyst for the development of disability art and culture that illuminates the disability experience in new and unexpected ways.

Bodies of Work logo.


Artistic Support

Curatorial mentorship for this program has been provided by Pia Singh. Singh is an independent curator and writer born in Bombay, India, based in Chicago, IL. Founding “by & for” in 2020, Singh is committed to building solidarities across the field; bringing local emerging curators, contemporary artists, and arts professionals together to bolster community-led social justice initiatives. Academically, her research focuses on community-engaged arts practices at the intersection of contemporary art, craft, and design. Her writing has been published by Sixty Inches from Center, Chicago Reader, Brooklyn Rail, Hyperallergic, Cultured Magazine, and ArtIndia, alongside regional publications.  


Lead support for Learning programs at the MCA is provided by Jana and Bernardo Hees.

Major support for Learning programs at the MCA is provided by Carol Prins and John Hart/The Jessica Fund and an anonymous donor.

Additional generous support is provided by the Friends of Edwin A. Bergman Fund, the Hulda B. & Maurice L. Rothschild Foundation, Diane Kahan, The Marshall Frankel Foundation, D. Elizabeth Price and Lou Yecies, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundations.