New Delhi: KHOJ International Artists’ Association presents Peers 2011 – art
Initiated in 2003, with support from the IFA (India Foundation for the Arts), Peers is an annual education and outreach residency programme that brings together five recent graduates from art institutions all over India. For four weeks, these young artists shed the expectations and rigidity of a structured curriculum, working together in a discursive space that stresses the role of free experimentation and risk-taking in art practice.
The selected students of Peers 2011 residency programme include : Aarti Sunder (Academy of Fine Arts and Craft, Rachana Sansad, Mumbai), Kundo Yumnam (NIFT, New Delhi), Maripelly Praveen Goud (Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda), Muthiah Kasi (D J Academy of Design, Coimbatore) and Pallavi Singh (College of Art, New Delhi). Apart from the students in residency, the critic – in residence, Aparna Singh (Visva-Bharati, Shantiniketan) would actively engage with the practitioners and work on a well-research paper that contextualizes and critically examines the Peers projects.
Says Pooja Sood, Director, KHOJ International Artists’ Association: “Ever since its inception, the Peers residency has become one of the most important programmes at Khoj.Khoj provides digital laboratories, extensive research archives and the opportunity to engage with a larger artists’ community, some of whom participate in a mentor’s role during the residency. Visits to artists’ studios, gallery exhibitions and other events in Delhi are organized during the course of the residency. The Peers artists are encouraged to move out of the physical environs of the studios and explore the area and its community”.
With the commercial boom in the art market, many students were absorbed directly into the gallery system right out of college. Without the structure and security of the institution and faced with the immense challenges that the professional art scene poses, the practice of many young artists runs the risk of falling prey to predictability brought on by the vagaries of the art market. Khoj fills the essential vacuum between the structured environment of an art school and the rigors of the professional art scene. At the residency, artists are encouraged to shed the inhibitions and step outside of their usual art practice, innovate and experiment with new forms of art making, which they may not otherwise have the time nor space to do. The importance of peer to peer learning through interactions and exchange cannot be underestimated. Five practitioners bring together varied experiences of their background, place and practice. Students from established centres of art practice interact with talented artists from smaller towns; trained painters meet cartoonists, amateur film makers, architects…. all of which results in a potent environment for exciting new art practices to emerge!
Artist Aarti Sunder is creating a series of characters with the help of installation and drawing as a part of the series. Aarti’s work is site specific, the artist is correlating the plain walls in the studio at KHOJ in every drawing. The artist regards working with real space as a big challenger for her. “How to use the real space and how to make it a part of the work. How to relate the real object with the idea, without losing its existence”, she says. Aarti’s sketches can be seen as a part of exploring every aspect of the studio space.
On the other hand, Kundo Yumnam plays with the space and atmosphere in the room. The artist’s interactive project deals with censorship and curiosity. By creating a Pandora’s box, the artist delves into the world of curiosity and censorship. Pandora – a box that contains all the evils of the world. The viewer would be left with an option to open the mystical Pandora box or not depending upon his level of curiosity.
Artist Pallavi Singh deals with the intricacies in the mind of a male aged between 40 to 60. The mind set, the desires, the sexual thoughts and dilemmas forms the focal point in the artist’s work. Pallavi shows the contrast between the actions and the inner desires of a male. The actions are symbolized in the form of photographs while the desires are symbolized with the help of negatives.
Muthiah Kasi experiments his thought process through wood block paintings. In the project, Muthiah deals with the monotonous life and dreams. The artist has symbolized monotony with a machine has hence shows how in this commercialized world, we are moving away from our dreams. The artist represents this process with paintings and installations.
Like his peers, artist Praveen Goud also explores the power of the sub-conscious mind. The artist plays with an offset printer grid paper by twisting, twirling it into different shapes and forms depending upon the mind frame of the user. Goud deliberately uses the grid paper to show ups, downs, depth and volume of a form. The mindset here not only explains the destructive nature of a human mind but also introduces the audience to the constructive mind with the help of an installation created by the artist with these shapes and forms of the crushed paper glued together.
Since 2003, many Peers alumni have gone on to win prestigious awards; they have been invited by established galleries to participate in important exhibitions; but most of all they have achieved an imperative leap in their own individual practice- which is after all the most important factor for an artist.
Participants are invited through an open call for applications, the last date for which is usually end- February/ early March. From almost 100 applications, 5 artists and 1 critic in residence are chosen. The selection process is based on bringing together a diverse group of practitioners, both in terms of art background (previous Peers have included painters, print makers, film makers, architects from institutions as well as amateurs who display exceptional talent) as well as from cities and towns all over India.