On Saturday, the by-lanes of Khirki Extension in south Delhi were even more cluttered than usual. A loud droning noise was bellowing through the area and a group of people had gathered to see just what it was all about.
Khoj Studios was opening two shows on sound art, Auditions: Sound Residency 2013 and Listen, my heart, to the whispers of the world with which it makes love to you, as part of the collateral events to the India Art Fair 2013. While Auditions, involving live performances by artists and sound sculptures, opened at Khoj Studios, the latter was played in DT Cinemas, Saket. Auditions is on till Tuesday.
“Sound art is not really a new art form—the term was coined in the 1980s, and the form existed much before that. During the industrial revolution, artists began to question typical forms of ‘sound art’ to mean something like an opera and symphony. They tried to use sound from surroundings to create a whole new art form,” says Pooja Sood, director, Khoj International Artists’ Association. Khoj has been organizing sound art residencies since 2006.
Auditions features the works of Abhijeet Tambe (India), Chi-Wei Lin (Taiwan), Malose Malahela (South Africa), Priya Sen (India), Rudi Punzo (Italy), Pawel Janicki (Poland) and Robert Millis (the US). Chi-Wei, Punzo and Millis are doing live performances. Punzo has put together a series of sound sculptures: insects made of wire and metal, with each object humming; together, all of them blend in to produce a beautiful symphony.
Listen... was a showcase of the soundscape of the subcontinent. The title comes from Stray Birds, a collection of poetic fragments by Rabindranath Tagore. Curated by Alexis Bhagat and Lauren Rosati, it comprised eight audio pieces, by Indian and international artists; all the pieces presented in the darkness of a cinema hall without visual accompaniments. Bhagat and Rosati are US-based curators and artists.
“Straddling the border between movie, concert and exhibition, this cinema in the dark engages visitors by re-presenting an environment they are already familiar with in a completely new way,” says Sood.
The artists who took part in Listen... were Budhaditya Chattopadhyay (India/Denmark), DifFused beats (India/Germany), Hildegard Westerkamp (Canada), Iain Armstrong (UK), Kamal Swaroop (India), Michael Northam (US), Raqs Media Collective (India) and Ujjwal Utkarsh (India). The Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective’s piece, N Dl Jn. (New Delhi Junction), put together the sounds of the station: the quiet of the morning, the chatter of the market, the construction by the day, and the percussive beat of the watchman’s stick by the night.
Auditions: Residency 2013 is on till 5 February at Khoj Studios, S-17, Khirki Extension, New Delhi.