Khoj International Artists Association (Khoj), founded in 1997, is a not-for-profit contemporary arts organisation based in New Delhi. Through its programs, Khoj supports and incubates emerging, experimental and transdisciplinary creative practices. It believes that art is of intrinsic value to society and that it is a crucial form of inquiry that provides unique insights and drives change. From its modest beginnings 25 years ago as an annual workshop, today, Khoj plays a central role in the development of experimental, interdisciplinary, and critical contemporary art practice in India, constantly challenging the establishment’s thinking about the role of art.
While it supports artistic endeavours across diverse media, Khoj has developed a reputation for using art to frame current events and to call attention to changes in the physical environment. A case in point is 28th Parallel North – An Expeditionary Weather Station. For one year starting in June 2022, artists, writers, and researchers undertook walks and treks in areas adjacent to the 28th North Parallel (through Mount Everest, the North Indian Himalayas, Rajasthan, and the Sindh Desert in Pakistan) and shared ‘weather reports’ in the form of observations, stories, images and imaginings about the changing weather and climate. Khoj’s Weather Station is part of the World Weather Network – a global alliance of 28 art agencies formed in response to the climate crisis and biodiversity loss. Learn more at their website.
ORA Action Research Grant Project
Khoj is seeking a $25,000 grant from Omega Resilience Awards to support Does the Blue Sky Lie?, which is the fourth phase of a multi-year exploration of the source(s) of Delhi’s toxic air and what constitutes effective responses at the individual and societal level. Previous events in support of the project have included staged “trade fairs” to elevate the limitations of individual household responses to societal problems like air pollution. It posed the question of how many masks and air filters one would need to acquire to feel safe from the threat of air pollution. In this newest phase of the project, Khoj intends to stage a hearing before a mock National Green Tribunal (NGT) to make the case that Delhi’s toxic air quality needs intervention at the highest level of government. The NGT was formed in 2010 to consider cases relating to environmental protection and conservation of forests and other natural resources.
In this case, Khoj believes that NGT has failed the citizens of Delhi and wants to use these “proceedings” to drive the point home. While there are a number of factors that contribute to Delhi’s dismal air quality, Khoj’s particular focus in this instance is on the practice of stubble burning which occurs annually to clear fields of straw waste. It is estimated that hundreds of millions of people are affected annually.
Through the project, Khoj intends to build dialogue amongst various stakeholders in the agrarian community, policy makers, activists and the youth to collectively think of alternate and sustainable solutions to counter challenges in the agrarian system. The outcome will be disseminated in the form of a post-performance publication that will describe the scope of the inquiry as well as if/how the perspectives of diverse stakeholders were affected by the performance.