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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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We are almost at the end of third week of our six-week-long art-science residency and our ideas are mostly getting refined, a few being discarded, as we go along. As a photographer I am constantly trying to see how our project can become inclusive of the spaces in which we inhabit right now. One of the ideas that Mohan, my partner in this project, and I are looking at is this – to walk the texture-rich streets of Khirkee Extension and photograph the contraption that we have been designing (that of two extra upper-limbs), and embed them in ordinary, everyday situations.

We are certain there will be a lot of curious on-lookers asking us about the project, but I also hope to photograph in spaces that are devoid of people and at odd times. The narrow lanes of Khirkee remain a fascination with me and I’d like to see how I could reproduce them to include our prototype of a presumed future. We have done some initial sketches of possible locations but there will be plenty of room for happenstances.

Shubhi, a final year fashion design student of the Pearl Academy will be designing the costume for the prop and we are excited to collaborate with her. Shubhi is also expected to be there during the shoot, and help us with set design wherever needed.

Besides the project, I am exploring the streetscapes of old Delhi that I photograph with ample curiosity. At Chandni Chowk, I am immediately reminded of Raghu Rai’s photographs of Delhi that he has captured with such fervour and intensity in the 1960’s. Times have changed, and much water has flown under the bridge since then. Pushcarts and cycle rickshawallahs now share spaces with cacophonous autos and Toyota Fortuners. But amidst all this, I can’t help but notice shards of Delhi that reminds me of his.

(dt. 26th March 2016)