Saturday, May 16, 2009
Introducing Peers 2009
First encounters are usually filled with a mix of excitement and curiosity and at times interspersed with awkwardness and shy silences. As the participants of the student residency - PEERS met at the Khirkee studios, an informal introduction round soon led to marathon conversations. We instantly found common areas of interest and points of debate. As we sat around the courtyard space, ideas and views were tossed about within an ambiance of camaraderie. Hours flew as we spent the day meandering through all sorts of topics from Psychoanalysis to 'high fashion'.
Prateek Sagar began to discuss the ephemeral nature of his conceptual art works, Dorendra Waribam shared his experience with video art and Aliya Pabani chatted about her projects at CEMA (A new media lab at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology). Many of the works discussed seemed to incorporate an intense exploration of community groups, inquiry into social patterns and creative expression using diverse technological modes.
A brief conversation with KHOJ members on the studio space, ongoing projects and the current residency helped us familiarize with new terrains. We knew we had landed into a stimulating and FUN space when their instructions included - 'watch out for falling slippers!' and 'We have a hen who wanders about the courtyard...'
As the artists went about choosing studios, we conversed about projection techniques, sonic art, light installations and various aspects of contemporary curatorial practice(s). We began to imagine the exciting possibilities and transformations that could be undertaken in the empty, whitewashed rooms. Shine Shivan began to share some creative ideas he wanted to explore during the residency. He talked about his interest in using material such as bones, feathers, and insects in his art-works. This led to a plunge into the widening discourse on extreme art. Aliya talked about the politics behind the display of human beings and specifically 'Bodies...the exhibition' in which human remains were showcased. Speculations on the origins of these bodies continues as they were allegedly linked to the secret trade in Chinese bodies.
At that point I remembered visiting the preview show of Damien Hirst's 'Beautiful Inside My Head Forever' in Delhi. As I stood before a glossy butterfly work, I had overheard a young visitor nonchalantly quiz a Sotheby's employee , 'So, he actually kills to make his art?' The reaction was a stiff smile and an impressive justification. But the larger question remains unanswered 'Is killing for art truly justifiable?'