Grant Period: Three Years
Established in 1997, Khoj International Artists’ Association based in Delhi is a key alternative forum for contemporary Indian visual artists. It has actively encouraged experimentation, collaboration and exchange through its residencies and workshops among artists from India and abroad. One of the most significant programmes at Khoj is an annual four-week residency, PEERS, for recent graduates and masters students from art colleges across India. PEERS has been supported by IFA for the last three years. The PEERS Student Residency has proved to be an important platform, providing space for experimentation and exploration outside academic confines, as well as allowing emerging practitioners to interact with professionals in the field and a wider public. PEERS has been successful in enabling young contemporary artists to negotiate the often tricky journey from the art academy to the real world. As its name suggests, the basic model used is that of exchange.
The PEERS residencies run from mid-May to mid-June each year. The artists-in-residence are paid a comprehensive honorarium to cover all living and material costs. The critic-in-residence is also paid a one-time stipend. Each artist is provided an empty white studio on the Khoj campus, as well as shared accommodation in a guest house. In making this grant to support another three-year run of PEERS, IFA has been in discussions with Khoj about where and how the programme can and should be leveraged. It has strongly urged Khoj to cast its enrollment net wide, so as to recruit from a rich variety of geographical and artistic backgrounds. IFA is also onboard with Khoj’s idea that its ongoing internships be regarded as a part of the overall spirit of the PEERS residencies. An agreement to underwrite 10 modest internships for 2008-09 has been put in place. Approximately three of the interns will work with this year’s PEERS residency at Khoj’s New Delhi campus, while the others will be assigned to other residencies. IFA will keenly monitor the synergies between the resident-artist approach and the internship approach in an effort to fulfill Khoj’s educational aspirations.
The last part of this grant underwrites a public exhibition of PEERS artists’ works dating back to the first residency in 2003. Scheduled for mid-2008, the exhibition coincides with the tenth anniversary of Khoj. The exhibition is also supported by Delhi’s Vadhera Art Gallery and the Foundation for Indian Contemporary Art (FICA), through the critic Bhooma Padhmanabhan (a past critic-in-residence in PEERS). IFA funds will fully underwrite a stipend for an exhibition curator nominated by Khoj, and partially support the publication of a catalogue. IFA sees the exhibition as extending the PEERS initiative in strong ways. It is hoped that an exhibition at a prominent public space like Vadhera will go a small way in addressing general public incomprehension/apathy/hostility towards the contemporary arts and its practitioners.