Peripheries & Crossovers: art as social practice – 2020/21

Over the last fifteen years, Khoj has been actively involved in art-based community projects in its neighbourhood Khirki, an urban village in the heart of Delhi. Through effective community engagement, focused on creating inclusiveness and participation, Khoj has researched, questioned, addressed and developed strategies to creatively address problems of urban inequality and intolerance in small but palpable ways in Khirki.

To deepen our inquiry further in art-based community projects, Khoj put out a call inviting proposals across India to address cultural norms and narratives around gender, and urbanisation. This is the second year of a three-year-long project. Through these distinct and diverse creative approaches, Khoj will continue to map the ecosystem that contributes to the landscape of socially engaged art practice in South Asia, and also continue to believe in the agency and responsibility of art and artists to affect social change.

These projects will be carried out in collaboration with local communities and a network of stakeholders/partners, which will include civil society organisations and the project outcome will be realised within the community with the possibility of an afterlife.

Khoj received close to 60 applications for this project. After a series of interviews, we are pleased to announce the names of the selected artists and the areas they will be working in.

Peripheries & Crossovers: art as social practice has been supported by The Ford Foundation, New Delhi.




Baaraan Ijlal

Project Title – Change Room

Location – Ongoing project in various locations across India

Baaraan Ijlal, a self-taught artist based in Delhi (India) has been interested in exploring anonymity in her practice as essential to individual liberty. She seeks to enable listening and creating witnesses to unacknowledged stories. She creates work through direct interaction with individuals and communities. Her themes include evolution, migration, body, memory and alienation. She paints and creates installations of sound, video, light and embroidery.

Her sound installation Change Room, is an ongoing project to enable radical listening of unacknowledged stories, told anonymously towards possible change. Those who have recorded their stories with the artist present as a witness include nomads, people turned out of homes and neighbourhoods because of their sexual orientation, victims of caste and communal violence and war refugees to name a few. This project now includes a growing archive of over 1000 testimonies.

About Change Room

Change Room, is an on-going sound installation of conversations about one’s own fears, apprehensions and desires, driving change through the acts of telling, listening and witnessing. It has been live since April, 2018 and was conceptualised as an open channel of voices telling their stories anonymously, with the artist as the witness. Further, these recordings have thus far been curated for public installations where the viewers walk into a room with the pre-recorded audio of intimate conversations playing. The viewers can opt to record their own reflections anonymously which are then added to the audio that is being played. Thus, the installation grows on the site.

This year as part of Peripheries & Crossovers: Art as Social Practice, Khoj is supporting the building of the first iteration of the Change Room Archives which will focus on women and the transgender community. Change Room Archives is a digital curation of previous and on-going Change Room recordings.



Divya Chopra & Rwitee Mandal

Project Title – Fursat ki Fizayen

Location – Madanpur Khadar, Delhi

Divya Chopra and Rwitee Mandal are spatial design practitioners and researchers based out of Delhi/Gurgaon. They have been working across multidisciplinary domains with a focus on gender-responsive spaces and placemaking through participatory art and co-design methods.

Divya is currently teaching at the MDes Social Design programme at the School of Design, Ambedkar University Delhi (AUD). Being located within a university with social sciences and humanities as its core, the programme focuses on the role and application of design along with social science methods to create more accessible, inclusive and sustainable public services and systems. Her research pursuits revolve around formulating an integrated urban development framework that allows for a collaborative and structured way of envisioning, co-designing and co-producing our cities. Rwitee is a Senior Program Manager at Safetipin, a social enterprise which uses technology to collect spatial data in order to make cities safer and inclusive for women and others. She is also actively involved with the Social Urbanism Lab at the post graduate Urban Design programme of School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), New Delhi. The lab uses ‘research through design’ as an approach to develop participatory design methodologies and solutions.

About Fursat ki Fizayen

Fursat ki Fizayen seeks to explore and understand the spatial realities of young, single, working women living at the margins – geographically, socially and economically – and to artistically interpret the daily negotiations and narratives of these women in reclaiming spaces in the city for leisure in their own unique ways. The enquiry will be specifically concerned with ways in which young women claim access to the site of power – the public domain – through various channels which give them back control of their own image-making. Curated stories of women, showing their presence, their strength, their resilience in contested urban spaces will capture an alternative reality of these women in public life. Such stories will be used as a means to understand and question the world as it affects women enjoying leisure.

Participatory mapping techniques will be deployed to understand socio-spatial dialectics embedded within the production of leisure spaces from multiple perspectives. The project will discuss the process of co-creation and co-management of these spaces with significant emphasis on community engagement methods. It wants to engage young women to reflect on how they think and construct their own images in the public domain, making the process of place-making and image-making a powerful tool for social empowerment towards fostering ownership and belongingness for these young women within their created environments.




Jasmeen Patheja

Project (Working Title) – Saath (Hindi) / With / Jothige (Kannada)
The artist wants the names to emerge from each community. Therefore this project will have new names based on the communities engaged with.

Location – Various locations across India

Jasmeen Patheja is an artist in public service. Patheja builds ideas for public action committed to ending violence against women, girls and all persons. She is the founder , facilitator of Blank Noise, a growing community of Action Sheroes, Heroes, Theyroes; citizens and persons, taking agency to end sexual and gender based violence. Patheja initiated Blank Noise as a student project, in 2003, in response to the silence surrounding street harassment, in India and globally. Over the 17 years she has designed a wide range of interventions, across forms of media, to shift public consciousness and build ownership of the issue. Patheja works towards feminist movement and solidarity building, her practice rests on the power of collaborations and community. Patheja facilitates and intervenes, to build testimonials of sexual violence, confront fear narratives, arrest victim blame, initiate healing, listening and empathy. Patheja’s approach has grown from addressing street harassment to now connecting spaces of violence through victim blame. Select projects include “ I Never Ask For It” and “ Meet To Sleep” (ongoing).

In 2019, Patheja received the prestigious Visible Award; awarded for socially engaged art practice. She was recently awarded the Jane Lombard Fellowship by the Vera List Center For Art and Politics at The New School, New York. BBC listed her as one of the 12 artists changing the world in 2019. In 2015, she received the International Award For Public Art, towards the project Talk To Me (Blank Noise).

Patheja is a TED speaker. She is also a TED and Ashoka Fellow. Her practice has received numerous media mentions including, The Atlantic, New York Times, The Guardian. Recent exhibits include I Never Ask For It / Meet To Sleep at the Ford Foundation Gallery, New York.  Patheja serves on the advisory board of Fem Tech Net. Patheja has served as a feminist mentor in the South Asia Young Women Leadership and Mentoring programme  (CREA) where she works with young women leaders across India.  She is artist in residence at Srishti Institute of Art Design and Technology.

Patheja also collaborates with her grandmother, Indri (Inderjit Kaur) on a series of photo performances.

Patheja lives in Bangalore.

About the project

Jasmeen Patheja has been working with members of the public and communities to end violence against women and girls since 2003. Over the years she has designed and facilitated a wide range of projects to confront narratives of fear, warnings and internalised victim blame. Her practice rests on building, documenting and archiving testimonials of sexual violence. Listening to testimonies by and with communities, inspires ideas for new collective action. The actions are rooted in imagination and desiring the world women and girls wish to inhabit and co create.

Patheja is working on a long term project to build ten thousand testimonials of sexual violence to end victim blame. She is invested in building local and community specific methodologies and approaches to do so. The Khoj grant will contribute to a part of this archive by enabling her to build new engagements in the peri urban context. The grant outcome is directed towards building new solidarities to shift patriarchy, initiate healing and empathy.


Sanyukta Saha

Project Title – Kyun Kyun Ladki

Location – Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan

Sanyukta is an applied theatre practitioner based out of Delhi. She is a part of a vibrant community of theatre makers and facilitators, known as Aagaaz Theatre Trust. Her curiosities and practice span community based theatre, education, theatre for young audiences, and drama and its applications for professionals. She is currently working towards understanding and engaging with the relationship between mental health and social change in her practice with children, adolescents and young adults. Her experiences with pandies’ theatre, Aga Khan Foundation, Think Arts and many other collaborations, shape her approach. She has been supported in her journey over the last 15 years by Inlaks Scholarship, UnLtd India, Changelooms Leadership Journey, and ARThink South Asia.

About Kyun Kyun Ladki

As in the story by Mahasweta Devi, that inspires the title of the project, the project addresses the  role of education in the lives of a group of adolescent girls in two villages of the Sawai Madhopur district in Rajasthan. Many of the girls in the area stop going to schools after grade 8, making their drop-out rate much higher than that of the boys in their villages. Urbanisation and the development of tourism has further exacerbated the situation of uneven development. The aim of the project is to create a space that is safe, that nurtures curiosity, creates the possibility to connect with their dreams, and builds into an exploration and expression of the girls’ relationships with their families and larger communities. Theatre-led integrated arts methodologies will create a space for expression, critical thinking and dialogue between the girls and the community they inhabit. The project will be in collaboration with a community based organisation – Gramin Shiksha Kendra. The imagination of this ambitious project is supported by the prospect of it’s life beyond the project period through the partner organisation.


Shweta Bhattad

Project Title – Cotton Stainers

Location – Paradsingha, Madhya Pradesh

Shweta Bhattad is a visual artist and performer. She is a trained sculptor, having completed her BFA in Nagpur, and MVA in MS University of Baroda. She has worked across mediums in the past, with a strong focus on issues of women’s safety, education and the female body. She is also a founder member of the Gram Art Project Collective, which is a group of farmers, artists, women, makers, etc. These are people of different ideas and identities but connected together by living and working in and around a village they all are concerned about. This village is Paradsinga, situated in Sausar Tehsil of Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh.

Paradsinga is like any other Indian village, undergoing migration with people aspiring for jobs to escape the poverty ridden circle of agriculture and patriarchal structures, while still trying to stick to their traditions, superstitions and religious beliefs. With this journey in the backdrop, they are trying to build their collective consciousness around understanding this journey, its repercussions, the vitalities and the trivialities of it and be expressive while doing it. This expression comes out through the Collective’s work and artworks. Sometimes these artworks take the form of landarts, sometimes they take the form of yarn artefacts made from the non-GM (Genetically Modified) IPR-free (Intellectual Property Rights) non-hybrid indigenous cotton they grow. These expressions also take the form of plantable seed papers and eatable artefacts made from the organic produce from their farms. Additionally they also use performance, making and other media as other forms of expressions.

About the project

Shweta Bhattad, as part of the Gram Art Project Collective, has been working with women in and around Paradsinga village since 2013. Living in a highly patriarchal society, most of the women in Paradsinga have their own experiences of being at the receiving end of discrimination and abuse with no space or way of expressing their angst and concerns. Since 2013, the Gram Art Project has been working with these women through different collaborations and have been experimenting with different media to enable them to tell their stories

The project Cotton Stainers is about creating a space that is run by the women in Paradsingha so that it becomes a platform of expression for their stories and concerns through sustainable clothing. Right from the sowing of cotton to spinning it into yarn to hand-weaving into fabric to hand-stitching into final garments will be done by the this space. Cotton Stainer (Dysdercus cingulatus), is infamous as a common farming pest attacking and leaving the cotton-boll with stains. The whole world is focussed on how to terminate it but they, like any other insect, are a vital part of our ecosystem, playing an important role in the food chain. Stain and cloth commonly don’t go with each other. Most people don’t like to wear a stained cloth. But each stain is actually an anecdote that makes the cloth live and its evolving-nature builds up its character over time.


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