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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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Beyond the 1st week I am afraid it will be difficult to be objective. The immersion will increase as we go along, like a meditation retreat it will have its ups and downs.

Day 0 – Sunday – Vivek and I arrive in Khoj. Arun here at Khoj show us our rooms and introduce us to the kitchen. very happy to see a good sized open plan kitchen. The smell from parata cart across the narrow road was tempting and we started our immersion in food right away. The polish artist (Tyska Samborska )had arrived a few hours ago nursing a jetlag.

Day 1 – Monday – The Khoj team got down to catch up for lunch, we introduced ourselves. Our studios were getting ready. Johanna Schmeer, German artist arrived from a surfing holiday from Sri Lanka. Our immediate pasts do not leave us be, I see vivek and I working on some unfinished projects. Vivek has been here in the past so we started our raids into the Khirkee village too the Afghani quarters and the many other. Gagan singh, artist from Delhi joins us, Artist from Delhi gets a studio but not a room to sleep in. It is useful to mix one or two local artists into the mix, especially kind ones like Gagan.

Day 2 – Tuesday – We were introduced to the  Khirkee neighborhood  by Radha. A matter of fact  demeanor of Radha makes this walk entertaining for me. We walked through the village to the mosque and from there to a now non-functioning reservoir. Tyska came up with an input that will make the process interesting. (more about that later)

Day 3 – Wednesday – Sitara and Suresh introduce us to the metro and Chawri bazaar, After purchasing our metro cards we felt like we belong to the city. There is nothing to add as far as the experience in Chawri bazaar goes. A tightly packed market place from metal, chemicals to nuts, Overwhelming.

Day 4 – Thursday – We meet Sitara at Nehru place to look at vast fabric showrooms. HP Singh stands tall amongst them, with a name like that it is inevitable. meanwhile our own Gagan singh who has a studio in Nehru place walks us around, takes us to his studio and with generosity shows all his work. Subjective thoughts on Gagan’s work in this objective blog, “No words to describe this experience, A whole lot of thinking and work. Gagan’s style is quirky, delicate and immediate, his mind is a fascinating space to populate”. We get our studios with spanking new tables in them. The studios chose us quite intuitively.

Day 5 – Friday – We have our studios now and it is time to get things going. Individually we got out to various shopping places to get our supplies. I got to the famous Sita ram stationery shop at Lajpat nagar got my supplies, A long roll of paper to stick on the wall and make notes in. Our studio has this paper stuck on the wall, some pens, books by Chris Hadfield, BKS Iyengar, Prahant Iyengar and this computer I write from which videos on space travel and quantum mechanics get consumed. Vivek shot some initial pictures to refer to, one of them is stylised and used in the blog. (I will blog the complete set of pictures in another blog)

Day 6 – Saturday – First day where there is no need to get out. we all got into our studios and did some thinking and getting used to. A book launch here in Khoj got us all in party mode. The preparation to host this event by the Khoj team was inspiring. We meet Sonia Khurana, artist from Delhi and  co-resident who arrived from NYC a few hours earlier at the party. She carries amazing spirit and I look forward to working with her.

Day 7 – Sunday – The last of the residents Alexey Buldakov arrive this morning. So we are complete as a cluster of artists here in Khoj. Another party this evening with sound. Few avant-garde sound artists are going to drum our ears. I am getting out to spend the day with my brother and family who live only a few miles from here.

PS –  we have stocked the kitchen with supplies, containers for spices and have been cooking one meal every day. This ritual helps us in bonding, I feel.