So this is it. Four fabulous weeks of engaging so intimately with art and artistes have finally come to an end. Tomorrow, i.e., the 19th June’ 2013 is the open day for the PEERS Residency. The five artistes who have intensely negotiated with their materials and artistic thought processes are ready with their works in their varied structures and non-structures. Today was a flurry of activity abuzz in the Khoj residence. Last minute arrangements and the rush to finish up the installations and work has made busy beavers of the artistes.
Juhika weaving in the blades into the ribbons almost appeared as a cellist playing the strings of the cello passionately. Pratik was hassled trying to arrange for a particular electrical cord while Parag was busy cleaning up the larger than life vessels that he’ll be installing. Its been a very wet four days in Delhi, and though there is muck and water logging everywhere, it has not been the least bit of a dampener for these young creators. The casualty however was the studio visit planned for Zuleikha Allana’s studio a couple of days back. Due to heavy water logging and incessant downpour some of us couldn’t make it. But for the one’s who did get the opportunity to visit her studio, it was an enriching experience. For Parag the visit was exciting as in the course of his interaction with Zuleikha, he had an insight into her thought process. He is quite intrigued by her play with text and her look towards creating art stemming as stories basically.
We also had an impromptu interaction with one of India’s foremost photographers, Dayanita Singh who just dropped by at the Khoj studios. What followed was almost an hour of intense conversation regarding the medium of photography. In that one hour, Singh gave us some meaningful insight into the virtues of being patient and not jumping the gun to have shows without building up an oeuvre that is unique to the individual. How in order to be an artiste one must strive to gather experience and live the experience in a country like India.
For me as the critic-in-residence, PEERS has been a challenging period. A challenge to my perceptions of contemporary art, a challenge to what I thought of as the artistic form, a challenge to my understanding and imagination of materiality, among many others. It was a strange space that got together six diverse individuals with their own vocabulary of art and understanding of who an artiste is. This encounter meddled with our minds and forced us to step out of our comfort zones and think out of the box. And it is this tangential thinking process that has been the most important and essential take away for me from PEERS 2013 and one that is crucial to my shaping up as a critical thinker/writer of art.
(PEERS 2013 Open Day is from 7 pm onwards at the Khoj Studio on the 19th June’2013)