A Sound Affair

Six Indian and international artists work on a medium seldom explored in India sound.

As one approaches Khoj Studios in Khirkee Extension, the venue of an ongoing sound-art residency, one is all ears to any kind of sound. The area is a hub of pandemonium in itself with yelling vendors, clanking utensils, guttural motorcycle engines and the distressful honking of cars in its cramped lanes. Yet, as one enters the premises, there is peace amid the concentrated sonics. The unique residency, called "Auditions", began here on January 4, with six artists working on channeling sounds in different ways.

The artists involved in the project are Abhijeet Tambe from Bangalore, Priya Sen from Delhi, Taiwan-based Chi-Wei Lin, Malose Malahleha from Johannesburg, Rudi Punzo from Italy and Pawel Jacno from Poland, with Robert Millis from the US as the critic.

Since 2006, Khoj is known for its involvement with sound, among other experimental forms of art. This time though, the residency looks at inexpensive, simple and recycled technology. Charu Maithani, the curator of the residency, explains, "Sound is generally associated with technology. We're trying to stay away from digitalised sounds this time. Sound here is created."

The centre space has 58-year-old Punzo hunched over what he calls his "robotic insects". A sound artist, sculptor and performer, his works Sound of Light and Sound of Matter involve metal installations with rotating discs attached to them, producing sound when charged under the sun. Tambe, 37, is currently working on a "soundscape" created with the sounds of Old Delhi. Yet another untitled one comes from 28-year-old Malahleha, who has collected various instruments from Old Delhi and Dilli Haat.

The artists, mostly showcasing their works in Delhi for the first time, look up to the residency for the opportunity it offered. "Sound art is not so popular since it's a borderline form of art even though it has existed for a very long time," says Punzo. Maithani adds, "In India, sounds are associated not with the process but with performances. Very few artists look into the materiality of sounds."

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