Welcome to ‘Khoj’, the spaceship
Imagine Khirkee village in New Delhi as a spaceship. Now imagine an escalator going up to space from Khoj studio in Khirkee. “Why not?” asks Susmita Mohanty, a New Delhi-based aerospace entrepreneur—her exhibition The Undivided Mind, which opens today, shows Khoj studio as a spaceship.
The works displayed at the exhibition are from a two-week residency (16-28 February) being held in the Capital by City As A Spaceship, or CAAS collective, which explores the crossover between two seemingly unrelated fields of art and science. The CAAS collective was conceptualized in 2007 by Mohanty, along with Barbara Imhof, a space architect, and Sue Fairburn, a scientist and design researcher.
The Undivided Mind reflects on how every city should be self-sufficient like a space station. “Smart cities are small, self-sufficient and those which utilize portable habitats—just like a space station. We want people to conceptualize and visualize how to tread the planet lightly,” says Imhoif.
“The exhibition draws a parallel between the earth we inhabit and outer space, bringing into focus questions about environment degradation, sustainability, recycling and efficient use of limited natural resources,” says Mohanty, who was a member of an international crew that lived in a simulated Martian outpost in the Utah desert, US, in 2004.
Visitors enter Khoj through an imaginary “airlock” that separates it from the extreme (read polluted) environment of Khirkee. Once inside, they are invited to walk through the different parts of the make-believe spaceship—the lab, art-sci module, mission control centre, galley, greenhouse and the holodeck. The art production includes videos, interviews, collages, mash-ups, postcards and printed journals. There are postcards featuring photographs of Khirkee and nearby places and information about space ecologies and findings—quoted from National Aeronautics and Space Administration studies on Mars and the moon. The idea is to juxtapose the realities of living in cities with the extremes of living in space.
“Space habitat is not very different in size, basic amenities or socio-psychological stressors from that of a micro-compact home or workspace in super-dense cities. The extreme shortage of real estate, clean air, water, waste disposal in dense cities present living problems not dissimilar to those encountered in extra terrestrial, synthetic environments,” says Mohanty.
The Undivided Mind will be on from 27 February-3 March, 11am-6pm, at Khoj International Artists’ Association, S-17, Khirki Extension (29545274).