Echo Chamber Arson, Debjani Chakravarty, 2016.

Debjani Chakravarty

Artist Statement

Fire changes everything. This is my attempt to set fire to all the echo chambers I have inhabited, created, and defended.

This digital painting depicts, too, structured destruction — collateral carnage in an age of impotent rage. This is a painting of “the price” from the widely circulated quote: “the price is worth it,” as quietly asserted by erstwhile Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and so many others in so many halls of semantical salsa dancing. The heat of bomb blasts can melt iron, and bones. It ruptures organs, separates limbs that fly around like fiery confetti. Is it because we cannot see thought, and hopes, and relief, and beliefs, that collateral damage seems so insignificant, so... mundane?

Digital media helps create echo chambers. Digital media can be also powerfully powerless or powerlessly powerful. The pace and scale of information spread has created a huge industry for outrage porn. It has further lined the walls of echo chambers. Global disaster has become a prop for identity and impression management. Who has the best and first Facebook post on senseless genocide number 5? Who used the rainbow or the French flag filter on their picture? Who used a sad but cool emoji to capture the whirlpool of sorrow regarding the death of women and children in a park on Easter as loud bombs exploded?

This painting is from a series of visual mindscapes I created as I come to terms with my own complicity in war, genocide, occupation, and labor exploitation. Coming to terms is like a terminal illness we must manage every day as we “bear life.”

Bare life is that parabloid overflowing with echoes. Fire changes everything. This is my attempt to set fire to all the echo chambers I have inhabited, created, and defended.  


I am an assistant professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Utah Valley University. I have a PhD in Gender Studies from Arizona State University, and two graduate degrees in Sociology of this or that from University of Pune. I am most at home on a university campus. Campuses give me hope but also deeply trouble me in their capacity to become impotent echo chambers. When academic work falls short of the promise that it’s held for the last several decades of my life, I turn to poetry and art. My artistic influences include Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, Rabindranath Tagore, Joan Mitchell, S. H. Raza, and my countless artist friends on I believe that digital media provides wonderful tools and exposure to many artists who are traditionally marginalized for their gender, race, age, and location. Many, many, confrontations with (mostly) art historians who told me that “real” art is what adorns the walls of brick-and-mortar art galleries or museums- have increased my respect for online art venues. Of late I am exhausted by mansplaining, gatekeeping, and something I call elitypocrisy. It is exactly like it sounds. My teaching, research, and artistic interests span globalization, post/colonialism, feminist science studies, new media, interdisciplinary research methodology, and issues of gender and labor. I have recently published academic and artistic works exploring the topic of transnational feminisms, collaborative research ethics, and epistemology. I am aware that some of those terms smack of elitism, too.