Sunday, May 9, 2010

The search continues

Ten years of Khoj, and going strong.

A tenth anniversary is a good time to look back and take stock. For Khoj, India’s foremost ‘alternate’ art institution, 10 years is an important milestone. It is a time to celebrate, to recall the triumphs, as also one to flag the failures and draw lessons for the future. The Khoj Book does both, and also provides a contextual and theoretical framework within which to place all the new-fangled art that has come out of Khoj over the years, the better to foster an ‘understanding’ of it.

The story of Khoj is a fascinating one, especially since the years 1997-2007 were also a time when Indian art, and perceptions of it, went through a huge shift. In her introductory essay, Pooja Sood (founding member and currently its artistic director), traces Khoj’s intellectual origins to the workshops initiated by Robert Loder and the Triangle Arts Trust in 1982, which brought together “artists from diverse cultural backgrounds [who] engage with each other to explore new ideas and expand the boundaries of their practice”.

In 1997, 24 artists who had attended these workshops in Africa decided to hold one in India. This was a two-week workshop in the winter of 1997, held at Modinagar, an industrial town some distance from Delhi. Half of the participants were Indian — among them Subodh Gupta, Sudarshan Shetty, Surendran Nair, Anita Dube and Gargi Raina, names that now enjoy instant recall in the world of Indian contemporary art. Of the rest, those from countries of the so-called Third World predominated — Iftikhar Dadi (Pakistan), Yoba Jonathan (Namibia), Luis Gómez (Cuba), Muhanned Cader (Sri Lanka), and so on.

Full report here Business Standard

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