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REFRACTING ROOMS: The Khoj International Workshop, Pune

Dates: 15th February to 1st March, 2015

Khoj from its inception in 1997 in Delhi has grown at a phenomenal rate and has had successfully provided a platform for young artists across the globe. Continuing the same, Refracting Rooms, a fifteen day international workshop also comes as an attempt to catalyze the efforts of GAP (Good Artists of Pune) of not only creating a sense of community amongst artists but also of collective progress. It is one of the first Khoj international workshops to be held in Pune. Despite its proximity to Mumbai, an extremely active centre for Contemporary Art, Pune has not been able to provide necessary opportunities to its artists. Given the same, the international workshop shall certainly seem to provide the impetus. The workshop consists of twenty practicing artists and a critic. Artists from Pune and members of GAP – Shraddha Borawake, Rucha Kulkarni Chaudhari, Snehal Kulkarni Dutt, Kumar Prashant and Rajyashri Goody. Other Indian artists – Shweta Bhattad, Amshu Chukki, Vaibhav Raj Shah, Kartik Sood and C. Krishnaswamy. International artists – Laurent Pinon, Katarzyna Krakowiak, Minette Lee Mangahas, Immy Mali, Svea Schneider, Emran Sohel, Francesca Lalanne, Syaiful Ardianto, Szu Han Chen and Dominic Nurre; and the participant critic in residence – Vrushali Dhage. Like most of the residencies, this one too aims at providing a space for intellectual exchange and practical experimentation. Further, the residency is hosted at TIFA (Talera Institute for Fine and Applied Arts), one of the prominent aspects of which is its Art Deco structure, built in the 1910’s.

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In comparison to their personal studios, the very space provides a different atmosphere for the artists to work in. Once a functioning  hotel, the rooms have now been converted into working studios. Though the space has been renovated, the traces of its earlier character pleasantly remain and at times assert the same. Be it its board of “Shalimar Hotel” or the old flooring, the empty lift channel to its furniture or the high ceiling to the guest journal records, all survive simultaneously as remnants and objects or entities for exploration. The structure with its main and sub routes is like a maze – connecting spaces and also creating a sense of play. The need for exploration seems evident as after the Workshop Orientation on the first morning, most of the artists got themselves engaged in walking around, familiarizing and finding their own personal space of interest within the physical built form.