Poulomi Desai (b.1966, UK) born in Hackney, London, is a multimedia artist and activist using ideas as she described as an “electromagnetic dissonant black noise for future dreams”. For more than three decades, Poulomi has approached her community-based practice as a collaborative investigation and provocation, using performance, language, photography and sound to create compelling art advocacy projects.
Poulomi has dedicated many years to photographing diverse queer communities, brought together in the exhibition and book Red Threads: The South Asian Queer Connection in Photographs (1980 – 2003), documenting the global South Asian Queer community, connecting the streets of Southall, London with locations in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Gujarat, India.
Her recent haptic works form part of the Heritage Quay archives, where she has been a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellow since 2016. In the 1980s and 90s Desai co-founded several important initiatives – such as the first South Asian LGBTTQ+ campaigning organisation Shakti; the Naz Foundation International (an HIV / AIDS charity in India), and the HAC theatre company. She also researched and curated the We Are the Lions exhibition in 2017 about the Grunwick strike.
In 2010, Desai created the Usurp Art gallery and studios, the first and only artist-led creative space in the London Borough of Harrow. She is an Oram Award winner for 2020 – 2021 and has a new portrait commission by Autograph ABP using bacteria and moulds with photography during the Covid19 pandemic.