New Delhi: KHOJ International Artists’ Association presents Peers 2010 bringing together five recent graduates from art and fashion institutes in a four week long student’s residency programme at the studios of Khoj International Artists Association, S-17, Khirkee Extension, New Delhi from May 15, 2010 to June 15, 2010. The residency culminates with an Open Studio Day from June 11, 2010 to June 15, 2010 inviting the larger artists’ community and the general public to view the Peers projects.
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 2010 residency programme include: Neha Thakar (Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda), Rabindra Patra (Dhauli College of Art and Craft, Bhubaneswar), Agat Sharma (NIFT, Delhi), Bhavin Mistry (Maharaja Sayajirao University, Baroda) and Malik Sajad (College of Fine Art and Music, Srinagar). Apart from the students in residency, the critic - in residence, Vrushali Dhage (Mumbai University) would actively engage with these practitioners and work on a well-research paper that contextualizes and critically examines the Peers projects. The final jury for 2010 selection consists of Bani Abidi and Manisha Parekh
Says Pooja Sood, Director, KHOJ International Artists’ Association: “The Peers residency has become one of the most important programmes at Khoj ever since its inception. Poised between student-hood and the professional art market, the Peers artists bring their individual histories and experiences which contribute to the extremely vibrant atmosphere of the residency. Khoj provides the infrastructure- studios, 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. These artists are encouraged to move out of the physical environs of the studios and explore the area and its community. Visits to artists’ studios, gallery exhibitions and other events in Delhi are also organized during the course of the residency.”
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!
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.
In bringing together artists working in a variety of media, drawing from multiple traditions, Peers thus inculcates the value of learning and growth through a critical dialogue, interaction and exchange.