Young at art: New Delhi's Khoj studios tries to bridge gap between college and studio
Visiting the homes of migrant women who had settled in Khirkee Extension in Delhi was an overwhelming experience
Visiting the homes of migrant women who had settled in Khirkee Extension in Delhi was an overwhelming experience. Before this, I never had had the opportunity to see people living in such dire conditions, yet persevering with life. It gave me so much to think about and ultimately played out in my art,” says sculptor Richa Arya. She is one of the five talented young artists who were chosen for a sponsored annual artist residency hosted by Khoj Studios in New Delhi this year. As part of this, she spent 15 days observing the residents of the neighbourhood and another 15 creating art inspired by what she saw.
Nestled in the crowded by-lanes of eclectic Khirkee Extension is Khoj Studios. Through its multi-storeyed layout, art connoisseurs are treated to one experiential artistic experience after another. One can play a board game to live through the plight of debt-ridden farmers or sit on a patch of grass with a mask and oxygen cylinder for company, to absorb the imminent reality of a future without fresh air. This is also
why the annual residency workshop, Peers, at the 25-year-old Khoj Studios, attracts the attention of greenhorns.
The first Peers residency began in 2002. The members of Khoj felt the need for incubator space for recent college graduates in India to bridge the gap between colleges and the studio. This year’s four-week residency showcased the work of the artists-in-residence.
There was Ashis Kumar Palei from Chandanpur, Odisha, who transforms discarded objects such as stationery and utensils to represent issues of caste hierarchy; Moumita Basak from Kolkata whose multimedia work explores ‘home’ through embroidery and paintings made with tea tints; Richa Arya from Samalkha, Haryana, who creates sculptures with metals to represent the ills of a misogynistic society; Vishnu Prasad who uses digital mediums to make socio-political statements; and Yash Vyas from Vadodara who creates sculptures rooted in the idea of the fleeting nature of memories.
The jury for Peers 2022 included curator and art writer Anushka Rajendran, artist and researcher Sonia Mehra Chawla, and artist Sumakshi Singh. “The residency has stimulated critical dialogue, interaction, exchange and has witnessed tremendous levels of energy and enthusiasm,” Alina Tiphagne, Head of Media and Communications, observes.
The artists are encouraged to explore the neighbourhood. The programme has also helped Khoj reach young artists and creative practitioners by understanding their aspirations and finding ways to engage with them and their practice.
“Initially I felt there was a considerable gap in language between the selected artists. It, however, occurred to me that especially within our field of practices around art, where we are in the business of exchanging ideas and concepts, the broken language format ends up playing a significant role in making effective communication possible,” says critic-in-residence Sohorpem Kazingmei from Manipur.