Kooshk Residency Exchange
The Kooshk Residency was an exchange program between Iranian artist Hoora Soleimani and Indian artist Soghra Khurasani. In the first part of the program, Khurasani had the opportunity of a residency in Tehran and collaborated with the Iranian artist. The second part was the residency for Soleimani in New Delhi where the two artists collaborated at KHOJ Studios.
About this programme
Kooshk Residency and KHOJ International Artists’ Association organised a new exchange program between Tehran and New Delhi for an Iranian and an Indian visual artist. This exchange program existed in two parts. The first part took place in Tehran, during the month of May. During this residency the Indian artist had the opportunity to work in Tehran, Iran and collaborate with an Iranian artist. During this time, the space was open to a local public of artists, students, and art critics. The program ended with a presentation and a panel discussion.
The second part was held in New Delhi in the month of July. The same Indian and Iranian artists participated in the second part. Soghra Khurasani (India) and Hoora Soleimani (Iran) were the two artists present in this program.
During her residency at KHOJ, Soleimani explore ‘power shows’, i.e. weightlifting competitions, which take place around India. In her previous body of work, Soleimani had explored the form of the human body under duress of lifting weights through painting and photographs. She visited power shows and interviewed participants and viewers, asking them to define the words “weight”, “pressure”, and “absurd”, as it was experienced by them in their own lives. She invited her subjects to share their stories, ideas, experiences, forms, paintings and other unknowns, which she translated into her body of work.
Soghra Khurasani –the name itself is inherently tied to Iran. Khurasan, now Mashhad, is the city her great grandparents belonged to in the pre-World War II era. They migrated from Iran to pre-independence India during the Nizam’s rule in Hyderabad, to help grow the system of education as they were Mullahs (teachers), and later shifted to Vishakhapatnam.
Soghra was born and brought up in India where the diversity of culture is vast. As a whole, the Muslim minority has seen communal riots and violence in every decade since India’s independence. In her short life and practice, she has nonetheless been able to adopt a lifestyle of boldness, as there is a certain level of freedom afforded to each individual living in a democratic country. In Iran, the opposite seems to hold true, where personal liberties are not so easily accessible, but its Muslim citizens, who are in the majority, live without fear of persecution.
During this residency, Soghra strove to understand the socio-religious-political philosophies and ideologies of these two countries, and highlight, analyze and interpret their different outlooks on identity, womanhood, and community that further shape their notions on freedom of expression and freedom of speech.
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