Close Work, Distanced: Pandemic Collaborations

black and white image of chain link fence and two handsaws

One of the postcards sent by the artist during the pandemic. image / Elise Nicol


This exhibition brings together four collaborative projects that took shape during the ongoing COVID pandemic, the forms and impacts of which follow various creative practices used across the artists' disciplines. The range of outcomes coproduced from the intimate spaces of home — a video, postcards, websites archiving pandemic stories or capturing an evolving glossary — fill the gallery with sounds, words, and images. They archive the raw experiences of the ongoing pandemic, the provisional makeshift nature of collaboration as process, and the stickiness of our work as listeners, makers, witnesses, archivists, when we too were buried just as deeply in the pandemic experience.


Neema Kudva

Neema is trained as a planner and architect, and teaches in the Department of City and Regional Planning, AAP. She is also Faculty Lead of the Nilgiris Field Learning Center, a collaborative project of Keystone Foundation, India, and Cornell University. In addition to being a faculty member at AAP, she serves as House Professor Dean at Becker House on West Campus, and as Associate Dean of Faculty at Cornell University.

Vastavikta Bhagat

Vastavikta is an architect focusing on the spatial and environmental politics surrounding post-intensive mining landscapes and climate change in Indian cities. She is currently researching a wide range of household experiences and responses to wetness in suburban Mumbai. Drawing on a yearlong Research Associateship at SEA (2018), she is concurrently developing a graphic novel and journal article manuscript on the contestations surrounding the futures of Goa's mining landscapes. She was a Field Stations 2019 Fellow under the Wright Ingraham Institute in Colombia and has worked earlier with Anupama Kundoo Architects, Ratan Batiliboi Consultants, KRVIA-Design Cell, and Ranjit Sinh Architects.

Rupali Gupte

Rupali Gupte is an architect and urbanist practicing and teaching in Mumbai. She is interested in contemporary urban conditions and their inter-disciplinary investigations. She locates her practice at the juncture of architecture, art, and urban research. She has received her bachelor's degree in architecture from the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute of Architecture (KRVIA) and her Master's degree from Cornell University. She has also been a Fellow at the KRVIA and at SARAI-CSDS, Delhi, and an Artist in Residence at the Art and Architecture Residency at Khoj, New Delhi. She is a cofounder of the School of Environment and Architecture in Mumbai and a Professor at the school.

Elise Nicol

Elise Nicol is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She has exhibited at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, PA), The Print Center (Philadelphia), Buddy Holly Fine Art Center (Lubbock, TX), Center for Maine Contemporary Art (Rockport), Springfield Art Museum (Springfield, MO), Janet Turner Print Museum at California State University (Chico), and Soho Photo (New York, NY), among many other venues. Her work is in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art Library, The Library of Congress, Boise Art Museum, Mesa Arts Center, Photomedia Center, Graphic Chemical and Ink Company, and more. She is the recipient of an Anderson Ranch Arts Center Scholarship and a Vermont Studio Center Artist Residency.

Alekhya Mukkavilli

Alekhya is a Senior Associate on the Finance team at ClimateWorks Foundation, where she supports the programs' capital markets and public finance strategies. Prior to ClimateWorks Alekhya worked at Citigroup for three years. She first started as an Investment Banking Analyst in the Financial Institutions Group where she covered insurance companies, asset managers, and financial technology firms. After a year, she worked for two years in the Office of the CEOs of Citi's Banking, Capital Markets, and Advisory division. Alekhya holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Barnard College, and a Master of Regional Planning from Cornell University.

Rewa Phansalkar

Rewa is an architect and planner. She graduated from the Master's student in City and Regional Planning program at Cornell in 2021 and works as a Research and Outreach Specialist at the NYS Water Resources Institute at Cornell. Her research interests include historic preservation, natural resource planning, and planning for the impact of climate change on cultural landscapes.

Anna Shats

Anna is a recent graduate from the Master of Professional Studies program, specializing in Information Science with a focus in interactive technologies and user experience. She works as a Business Technology Analyst at Deloitte Technology Consulting.


Moomal Shekhawat

Moomal is a weaver and a researcher. She holds a bachelor's degree in Industrial Design (specialization in weaving) and Experimental Media from Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology, Bangalore, and recently completed a fellowship in Urban Studies from the Indian Institute of Human Settlements, Bangalore in 2020. Her practice lies at the intersections of research and artistic practice, where she is trying to explore the boundaries of both forms and how they can overlap to create newer/greyer/messier categories of discipline and outcomes. Her interests lie in ideas of non-linearity on processes, construction practices of narratives, and memory. She currently works as a Research Associate at the School of Environment & Architecture, Mumbai.

Prasad Shetty

Prasad Shetty is an urbanist based in Mumbai. He has studied architecture (B.Arch., KRVIA, Mumbai University) and urban management (MA-Urban Management, Institute for Housing & Urban Development Studies, Rotterdam, the Netherlands). He is one of the founding members of the School of Environment and Architecture and currently works at the school as Professor and Dean. He is also one of the founding members of the Collective Research Initiative Trust urban research collective, which has been involved in urban research activities in the city of Mumbai. Earlier he has worked with the MMRDA (Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority), MMR — Heritage and Environment Society, Academy of Architecture, and Kamla Raheja Institute for Architecture. He has also worked as a consulting urban management expert to the Town Administration of Mendefera, Eritrea; and an expert member to the Dadra–Nagar Haveli Planning & Development Authority. His work involves research and teaching on contemporary Indian urbanism with a specific focus on architecture; cultural aspects of urban economy and property; housing; and entrepreneurial practices. He has a wide range of publications and has exhibited his works and delivered lectures in India, US, The Netherlands, Germany, Spain, France, Eritrea, Canada, Italy, Turkey, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Brazil.

Tom Swartwout

Tom makes media with a team at the Center for Conservation Media at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in partnerships with conservation organizations around the world. He lived in Brooklyn, New York, for nearly twenty years before moving to Ithaca with his family. He has edited feature films, documentaries, and both scripted and unscripted TV shows.

Melissa Zarem

Melissa Zarem earned her B.F.A. from Cornell University and began her career as an Artist in Residence with the Henry Street Settlement House’s Abrons Arts Center in New York City. She was awarded a position in the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) Mark Program followed by a number of gallery exhibitions including several at Exhibit A Gallery in Corning, NY where she is currently represented. She has also been featured in shows at Handwerker Gallery of Ithaca College, Aqua Art Miami, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, The Arnot Museum and the Johnson Museum of Cornell University, with work in its permanent collection. Melissa's recent projects have been in collaboration with other artists, including We're Here because We're Here, an installation with Werner Sun at the Soil Factory of Ithaca, and a pandemic related project called No Words: a Postcard-Based Conversation Between Two Artists with Elise Nicol.


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