Prem Krishnamurthy (b. 1977) is a designer, curator, writer, and teacher based in Berlin and New York. He currently directs Wkshps, a multidisciplinary design practice; is artistic director of FRONT International 2022, the Cleveland triennial of contemporary art; and organizes Commune, an emergent, multiform workshop that practices artistic tools for social transformation. Prem received the Cooper Hewitt National Design Award for Communications Design in 2015. In March 2020, he started a live, collaborative, virtual event series called Present! as part of the artist collective Home Cooking. His experimental, ever-changing, electronic book, P!DF, is available online. A partial portfolio of Prem’s past projects can be previewed here.
Since 2008, Prem has organized numerous exhibitions and programs as an independent curator. The forthcoming FRONT International 2022 triennial is titled Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows; it will feature approximately 80 international artists presented across twenty museums and venues in Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin, Ohio. Notable past exhibitions and programs include the 13th A.I.R. Biennial: let’s try listening again, New York (2019); Fikra Graphic Design Biennial 01: Ministry of Graphic Design, Sharjah, UAE (2018); Masterpieces & Curiosities: Elaine Lustig Cohen, Jewish Museum, New York (2018); P!CKER, Stanley Picker Gallery at Kingston University London (2017–2018); Design & Empire [working title], Liverpool Biennial (2017); Brian O’Doherty: Speaking in Lines, Simone Subal Gallery, New York (2017); Creative Operational Solutions, Para Site, Hong Kong (2016); and DIS-PLAY / RE-PLAY, Austrian Cultural Forum, New York (2016). From 2012–2017, Prem was founder and curator of P!, the experimental “Mom-and-Pop-Kunsthalle” in New York’s Chinatown, which mounted over forty on- and offsite exhibitions including the first US solo presentations of artists including Céline Condorelli, Karel Martens, Maryam Jafri, Michal Helfman, Société Réaliste, and Wong Kit Yi. In 2018, he was the recipient of KW Institute for Contemporary Art’s “A Year With …” residency fellowship in Berlin. His independent exhibitions and curatorial research have been supported by Artis, Graham Foundation, Mondriaan Fonds, and New York State Council for the Arts.
From 2004–2017, Prem was a founding principal of the design studio Project Projects, which in 2018 became Wkshps. The studio works with cultural partners on strategic design projects across media. In his role as director, Prem built an internationally acclaimed practice that has collaborated with institutions such as Berkeley Art Museum, BOZAR, Dhaka Art Summit, Guggenheim, Jewish Museum, L’internationale, Mercosul Biennial, MoMA, New Museum, The Renaissance Society, SALT, SculptureCenter, Sharjah Art Foundation, Triple Canopy, Whitney Museum, and Yale University Art Gallery; artists such as Barbara Bloom, Katharina Grosse, Mika Rottenberg, Stephen Prina, and Walid Raad; and architects such as Bernard Tschumi Architects, Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Steven Holl Architects, and WORKac. He was a member of the Creative Team for the Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018. For its body of work, Project Projects received the Cooper Hewitt Design Museum’s 2015 National Design Award for Communication Design, the United States’ highest recognition in the field. In 2017, the Art Institute of Chicago acquired nearly 80 works by the studio for its permanent collection.
As a writer, Prem has authored essays in books including John Heartfield: Photography Plus Dynamite (Hirmer, 2020); Curating After the Global (MIT, 2019); One/Here/Now: The Brian O’Doherty/Patrick Ireland Project (Sirius Arts Centre, 2019); The Dispatch: Carnegie International, 57th Edition, 2018 (Carnegie Museum of Art, 2018); As Seen: Exhibitions that Made Architecture and Design History (Art Institute of Chicago, 2017); The Way Beyond Art: Wide White Space (CCA Wattis, 2013); and I Like Your Work: Art and Etiquette (Paper Monument, 2009). He has edited books such as The Death of the Artist (Cabinet, 2018); Speculation, Now (Duke, 2015); Amie Siegel: Catalogue (Inventory Press, 2014); Draw It With Your Eyes Closed: The Art of the Art Assignment (n+1, 2012); and MATRIX / Berkeley: A Changing Exhibition of Contemporary Art (University of California, 2009).
Prem has lectured and taught in art, design, and curatorial programs internationally, including Barnard College at Columbia University; California College of the Arts; Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College; Central Saint Martins; De Appel Curatorial Programme; HFBK Hamburg; HfK Bremen; Maryland Institute College of Art; Rhode Island School of Design; Parsons The New School for Design; Princeton University; Royal College of Art, London; University of Connecticut Storrs; and Weissensee Kunsthochschule Berlin. His professional papers and archive were acquired by Bard College’s Center for Curatorial Studies in 2019.
He has served on the Board of Directors and Advisory Boards of non-profit organizations including Eyebeam Rapid Response For a Better Digital Future Fund, MARCH Journal of Art and Strategy, The Contemporary (Baltimore), Triple Canopy, and Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School.
Prem holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Yale College and was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 1999.