From nightmares surveyed to cities destroyed

Fancy wouldn’t be a word to describe this place. The Khoj residence isn’t a residence for the fancy; instead it belongs to artists, tumbling and living in the utter turmoil of their thousand ideas, all come to haunt them one by one.

PEERS is a four-week residency programme at the Khoj International Artists’ Association that provides recent graduate and master students a platform to showcase their art to the world. The ‘artists in residence’ for the 12th edition of this innovative programme were Digbijayee Khatua, Faiza Hasan, Mithun Das, Shailash BR, Utsa Hazarika and the ‘critic-in residence’ was Mario D’Souza, who led Metrolife through the creations of all the artists.

Who knew that a broken mirror could tell such an undiminished story? To us, that was what Utsa Hazarika’s work was about. A student of anthropology, Hazarika told the story of migrating birds through a video of the same, reflected upon the screen through pieces of silver glass. It seemed to signify the broken fragments that our life is made of and our search for survival.

Next came the work of Faiza Khan. “I’ve played with the idea of seeing. Which can mean a lot of things, for example, being surveyed through cameras,” she tells Metrolife. And indeed, the picture of surveillance camera placed on top of an Ankh, speaks about what the true ‘eyes’ of the 21st century have become. Her work depicts the paranoia of the public at being watched and other ideas of perception.

A picture of a pipe may not be a pipe for Magritte. However, Mithun Das’ ‘nightmarish’ art did seem like a nightmare come true. Hailing from a violent district called Mograhat, Das manages to make physical the horror he has seen through ‘scratched in the wall’ paintings, intestines in bottles, and dark figures on the wall subtly playing with erotic themes. His little closet of nightmares is a wonder playing with light and darkness.

“Shailash hails from a Sanskrit background; he depicts the mythical side of an earthquake,” D’Souza tells Metrolife. And sure enough, the comics on the wall depicting the Earth being stolen, and the somewhat artistic representation of a Richter scale and the glass placed on a shaking earth look quite fascinating. Digbajayee Khatua’s work reminds us of how the city looks from the small window of an airplane, far in the sky above; the ground beneath breathing with miniscule entities. He used matchsticks to create such models of the city. “The matchsticks are combustible, which conveys their vulnerability and through that their growth. For a thing to grow it has to die and live again,” he says.

The creations are memorable, yet they dare us to think twice about the things around and to view them in different lights and angles. For the common man may not see, but leave it to the artist to turn the hindsight into foresight.   

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