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The Not So Blue Sky

An exhibition at Khoj demystifies life in outer space and brings it closer to earth.

Written by Vandana Kalra |
Updated: February 28, 2015 12:00:16 am
caas, delhi exhibition art, delhi art View of Vienna envisioned as a self-sufficient space station by CAAS.

Khoj Studios in the crannies of Khirkee Extension has been converted into a spaceship. It explores not the world, but the city of Delhi, the immediate neighbourhood where there is constant battle for space and resources. Visitors enter through an imaginary “airlock” that seals and separates it from the extreme environment of Khirkee outside. The make-believe spaceship has the hab lab, art-sci module, mission control center, gallery, greenhouse and the holodeck. “We believe Khoj itself is a self- sufficient space station,” say its creators — members of the CAAS Collective. Acronym for City As A Spaceship, it comprises Dr Susmita Mohanty (spaceship designer and aerospace entrepreneur), Dr Barbara Imhof (space architect) and Sue Fairburn (scientist and design researcher). The trio has been stationed at Khoj Studios for the last two weeks in a residency with artist Rohini Devasher.

Since its inception in 2007, the collective has travelled with its self-sufficient “travelling lab” across the world, from San Francisco and Amsterdam to Paris and Toronto. Its model for the Vienna Science Festival, where Vienna was envisioned as a “smart city even growing its crops vertically within the buildings”, has been included in science textbooks in Vienna. “We want to create a dialogue that earth and space are not exclusive of each other,” says Fairburn, a Canadian scientist who works with concepts of extreme physiology.

The outcome of their interactions with the residents of Khirkee, the Delhi- specific work — posters, collages, photographs, info-graphics and videos — deal with issues ranging from extreme shortage of real estate to clean air, water and waste disposal. “Dense cities present living problems not dissimilar to those encountered in extra-terrestrial synthetic environments. The problems of odour, noise, crowding, privacy, hygiene, upkeep, and storage are quite comparable,” says Mohanty.


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Devasher, on the other hand, builds on the idea of terrariums, in her work Terrasphere. “It embraces concepts of biospheres and self-sustaining ecosystems evoking qualities of fragility and buoyancy,” says the artist. Her single-channel video, Helio Blue, re-imagines Cyanometer, an 18th-century instrument for measuring ‘blueness’, specifically the colour intensity of the sky. So how blue is the sky? Devasher’s video gives a distinct idea.

The exhibition at Khoj Studios, S-17, Khirkee Extension, is on till March 3. Contact: 29545274

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