The Artist residency is a fluid concept allowing and creating the opportunity forartists to develop a deeper understanding of themselves within the context of their practice, as well as giving insights into the differentbackgrounds and artistic processes of their fellow artists. Playing the role of facilitator, artist residencies have become intrinsic to many artists careers. However, at this juncture, India has a dearth of such programmes when it comes to a younger, more inexperienced artist seeking to find his or her place in the art world.
Dharti was born of the desire to help bridge this gap, to be the catalyst providing young artists with the time, space and resources to work on areas of their practice so as to be more reflective about their work in relation to a larger community and context.
Taking inspiration from the idea of ‘The Self in Self-Sufficiency”, this year’s theme was born of the strange dichotomy created in today’s world, where one is expected to be self-sufficient and to fend for themselves, yet societies and cultures as they existed earlier, and art itself, can be seen to lead to and facilitate engagement and human connections. Today, many feel isolated from the larger community and divided in worldviews even while referring to the world as a “global village”. Artists therefore find themselves in the unique, yet immensely significant position of being voices that address these opposing views while making deeply personal and political statements.In a polarised and disengaged society, art is a platform upon which we can find common ground. Some of the questions we aspired to address through Dharti included: Should art be created in a vacuum? Do artists create best in isolation, or through their interactions with the world? And how within this space does the artist locate him/herself. As a first attempt at a residency, Dharti has been as much of an experiment as it has a learning curve. Building on the diversity of backgrounds of our six artists-in-residence, the works produced during the three months ranged from the intimate to the conceptual, as each artist grappled with the ideas of identity, belonging and autonomy in a fast-changing urban environment.