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Khoj International Artists Association

9th October 2019

Khoj and members of its Board are disturbed by certain actions which undeniably have the effect of discrediting and suppressing conversation around sexual harassment in the art world.

Khoj has been deeply concerned about events that have unfolded with regard to sexual harassment in the art world since December 2018. The allegations made against Subodh Gupta were of direct relevance to Khoj as Subodh Gupta is a founding member of Khoj and has been a member of the Board since 1997.

Shortly after allegations of sexual harassment against him were posted on the instagram handle @herdsceneand and became public on or around Dec 15, 2018, the Board decided that even while no formal complaint was made, Subodh Gupta be requested to step down. At this time, Bharti Kher too stepped down from the Board of Khoj although no such request was ever made by Khoj.
The Board is aware of a personal email written in December 2018 by Pooja Sood to Subodh Gupta. It is reiterated that a unanimous and categorical decision was taken to ask Subodh Gupta to step down from the Board in December 2018.

The “MeToo” movement has thrown light on the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in different fields. It has also highlighted the professional and social compulsions and institutional shortcomings that deter women from subjecting themselves to complaint and inquiry proceedings, the factors that deter women from identifying themselves, the fear of retaliation, as well as the difficulty in speaking out .The art world is largely an unorganized sector that operates through individual networking and mentorship. The lack of formal structures and avenues for redressal or to protect the interests of its workers exacerbates the manner in which gendered power particularly is allowed to be misused. These were some of the factors that informed the Khoj Board’s decision in December 2018.

At the same time Khoj initiated legal consultations on the issue and is engaged in measures to set up prevention and redressal mechanisms to ensure a safe work space.

In July 2019 Khoj received multiple communications from the gallery, Nature Morte informing Khoj that Subodh Gupta has been exonerated and suggesting that Khoj should invite him back on to the Board. This was discussed at the Khoj Board meeting on 1st September 2019 and it was unanimously decided that there would be no change in Khoj’s position.

Khoj maintains that it recognises and accepts the social and ethical obligation to take a stand on issues of sexual harassment.