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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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Mahesh curled up on his studio floor, headphones on, usually with some intimidating tool, is a broad barometer of how long we’ve each stayed up. His constancy is a better time-keeper than any clock, watch, or ticking thing.

Two days into the Peers, Mahesh was already comparing Hyderabad and Delhi. Walking around Chandini Chawk, we spoke about the differences in how people eat street food in both cities and the noise. Of course, the sound is his preoccupation, and Delhi is a rich audio archive in the most invasive and all-encompassing ways.

The precision with which he approaches his practice keeps it distinct and slow-moving. From profound observation and intensive study of movement and machinic structures, he creates his noise and told his own stories. Mahesh’s work is about creating experiences, not products; time and sound are essential.

In the third week of Peers, we got to do a workshop together, which outwardly looked like it would thrust us into a situation where we’d all be on the same page, for once, at least in our mutual inexperience with the craft of book-binding. The colourful, noisy afternoon that culminated put paid to that idea at once because even when learning a new skill or climbing further information, it’s clear that muscle memory is something that you can’t leave behind. Even when sewing in a straight line or making neat cuts, it was obvious who the trained artists were and more apparent that the body kept the score. Mahesh’s pin-straight cables and even calculated stitches, not to mention the hammer he brought into the Project Room, marked out his set of notebooks as flawless and technically perfect.