KHOJ International Artists’ Association
A not-for-profit organisation for the contemporary arts, KHOJ International Artists’ Association was founded in 1997 by Pooja Sood and a group of Delhi-based artists with the support of the Triangle Arts Trust of London. The organisation evolved from its earliest form as an annual artists’ workshop to a space run “by artists, for artists” in order to address the lacuna in formal and systemic support for the contemporary visual arts. In its current format, KHOJ – named after the Hindi word for “search” – provides a platform for upcoming artists and practitioners, through studio and exhibition spaces and various incubation and support programmes, fostering experimental and interdisciplinary work. It’s therefore established itself not only as an alternative creative space for artists, where residencies and exhibitions are held, but also as a facilitator of artistic exploration through workshops, community projects, seminars, conferences and international networking.
At the time of its founding, the twin goals of KHOJ were to initiate dialogue between India and the rest of Asia and to generate discourse on contemporary artistic practices in Africa, Oceania, Latin America and the Asia Pacific. Through such sustained exchange, the organisation sought to create an environment where art could find new directions, free from Western notions of contemporary artistic practice. A keystone event to mark this dialogue was the first KHOJ International Workshop held in 1997. Aided by the Triangle Arts Trust, Eicher Gallery, New Delhi, and the Dayawati Modi Foundation, the workshop featured 22 artists from Africa, Europe and South Asia, and was the first of several to promote cross-cultural and cross-media explorations of artist groups from varied regions and communities. In 2002, the International Workshop acquired its own space in Khirkee extension, New Delhi, where it continues to operate. A year later, KHOJ introduced PEERS, an annual multi-week residency programme for recent art graduates, supported by the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA). The residency was conceived to provide the necessary support to enable young and emerging artists to pursue their artistic projects unhindered by economic and other constraints. The pillars of the programme are infrastructure, mentorship and exposure — in the form of studio and exhibition space, gallery visits, artist and curator visits and lectures, public engagements and exhibitions — to enable artists to experiment within and expand their disciplines.
As part of its ongoing efforts towards creating of a dynamic interface for art communities, KHOJ initiated and facilitated in 2000 the constitution of the South Asian Network for the Arts (SANA). This international network of artists, scholars and researchers served, in the main, to foster cultural interactions — with art at its centre — between Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal; the organisations Vasl, Theertha International Artists’ Collective (TIAC), Britto and Sutra, of the respective countries, are important loci of these interactions. From 2007-11, the organisation supported the creation of a national network to encourage the development of experimental practice in India, working with 1Shanthiroad, Bengaluru; Desire Machine Collective, Guwahati; CAMP, Mumbai; and KHOJ Kolkata.
In 2011, a group of Indian artists, scholars and curators came together to organise a fundraiser, titled “A Gift for KHOJ.” The event featured the sale of 25 limited-edition portfolios of photography, sculpture and painting, signed and donated by artists such as Vivan Sundaram, Gigi Scaria, Anita Dube, Atul Bhalla, Manisha Parekh, Anjum Singh, Kiran Subbaiah, Arun Parekh, Vasudha Thozur and Sarnath Banerjee. The proceeds of this event went towards the expansion of KHOJ’s Khirkee studio in New Delhi.
Google Arts & Culture. n.d. “KHOJ International Artists’ Association, New Delhi, India.” Accessed September 24, 2020. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/khoj-international-artists-association
KHOJ. n.d. “Khoj Legacy” About. Accessed September 24, 2020http://khojworkshop.org/khoj-legacy/
Perera, Sasanka, and Dev Nath Pathak. eds. 2019. Intersections of Contemporary Art, Anthropology and Art History in South Asia: Decoding Visual Words. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Sood, Pooja. 2009. “Khoj as Idea.” CriticalCollective. https://www.criticalcollective.in/ArtistGInner2.aspx?Aid=180&Eid=143