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Radical Housing and Socially-Engaged Art

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KHOJ as an organisation facilitates diverse learning experiences and engagement strategies with contemporary, experimental art practices. As part of a new stream of audience building and alternative educational methodologies, KHOJ began implementing a series of community outreach workshops facilitated by Lleah Smith, the 2015 international Fellow. These workshops existed alongside the current programmes at KHOJ and explored the same thematics of research adopted by the organisation, in a hands on manner.

The international residency in 2015 investigated the reciprocity between Art and Science, two realms which are often considered opposing forces. In the first segment of the residency, KHOJ was inhabited by the CAAS collective (City as a Spaceship) and Delhi based artist Rohini Devasher. CAAS and Devasher collaborated on envisioning what the future, smart city should and could look like. CAAS supported their projections by referencing their experiences building simulated environments for astronauts travelling to the extreme environment of outer space, whilst also presenting their research, which aimed to understand the psychological and physiological limitations and pressures on the body when it is beyond gravity. Devasher extended upon her interest in astrological processes and extra-terrestrial activity, to visually illustrate where we are headed and how we might get there.

Imagining your Future City was an extension of these ideas, of conceptualising what the world could be like in 3015 and what elements from earth should remain as they are and where and how we can improve. The children of The Rainbow Home aged 12-14 were encouraged to be as precise, as realistic, as creative, as abstract and far-reaching as could be. The foundation of these workshops was to provide the students with a task that was process-driven and invited them to think about their world and their space in new and invigorating ways. Imagining your Future City pushed one’s understanding of materiality but also what constitutes an artwork. The series of workshops aimed to shift from figurative representation, to a more experiential, experimental understanding of ideas, language, and form.

One child envisioned herself floating through space heading to Pluto with Earth on a chain, she decided she no longer wanted to live on Earth in 3015, but she wasn’t quite ready to let it go either. Another child realised that if we don’t stop mining and stripping the land of its resources and minerals, we will slip through the ground because the soil won’t be strong enough to hold us all, Finally one little girl cut out a rubbish bin and simply stated that once we begin recycling and caring about where our by-product end up, the world will be a much more vibrant, colourful and rich space.

These incredibly diverse scenarios demonstrated the freedom, creative liberty and personal relevance of the task. As an ongoing relationship was established with The Rainbow Home in the following months and various other school and community groups in Delhi, Lleah Smith continued working towards eroding the barriers of right and wrong and generating a space adjacent to KHOJ, which would exist as an experimental laboratory, encouraging a real connection with contemporary, conceptual art practices.

KHOJ would like to extend a big thank you to Sumiran Kabir Sharma and Abhigyaan who donated their endless energy and time to ensure the workshop was a success.

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