A writer often needs to get away — to a sanctuary where the calm allows ideas to emerge from their depths and assume the form of a story or a poem. To a visual artist, a residency provides this space, says sculptor Andrew Connelly, a professor at the California State University, Sacramento.
The month Connelly spent as resident artist at the Sanskriti Kendra, Delhi, helped him produce an enormous amount of work in a short time. One of his installations will be on display at the Shridharni Gallery from June 15 in a show with Amitesh Verma.
“I spent most of my time at the Sanskriti grounds making installations. Later, I would venture out into the city to view exhibitions, musical performances and art festivals,” he recalls.
For artists of the Khoj Peers Residency 2010, too, the sights, sounds and smells of Delhi — the city they were staying in — worked as a muse.
NIFT graduate Agat Sharma, 26, one of the five artists at the residency, has explored the link between consumerism and big-city superficial sentiments. In his installation, the idea takes the contours of a cosmetic cream. “I feel ‘squeeze’ is a word from the city. How about tubes that squeeze out ready-to-use empathy or squishing ‘jealousy re-dux cream’ on the palm, mixing it with ‘liquid guilt’, and applying it on the face. Only to wash it off later?” he asks.
Neha Thakar, from MS University, Baroda, wants to depict the ephemeral nature of life through air, smell and ice. “Haldi, chilli and mogra at the Khari Baoli spice market inspired me to create a smell-pump installation.”
Bhavin Mistry, 26, has earlier represented the theme of claustrophobia in his drawings. He now creates a cloak — with essentials to survive in a big city. Think food sachets, toothpaste, a clothes hanger and a sleeping bag.
Delhi’s maze of power structures has tripped over Rabindra Patra. The 27-year-old Fine Arts graduate from Dhauli College, Bhubaneswar, repaired electronics goods before his arts foray. His installation draws on his erstwhile vocation. “The power structures which emerge in negotiating a big city are like a sculpture with resistance wires.”
Graphic novelist Sajjad Malik’s animation film on the Kashmir conflict is seen through the eyes of a child playing hopscotch and an undulating line drawn through its margins which turns into barbed wire. “The line is a metaphor for anxiety and the playful quality of hopscotch,” says Latika Gupta, a curator at Khoj.
For the four positions available at the Bengaluru Artist Residency One’ (BAR1) Collective, run by Bangalore’s artist community, the organisers get more than 100 applications every year, says founder-artist Surekha. “Emerging artists perceive it as a non-competitive space to incubate novel ideas.”