Khirkee Festival to celebrate ethnic diversity

by Team ACF
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What: Starting December 14 till December 17, multiple venues of Khirkee Extension will come alive with a four-day festival of the arts titled Khirkee Festival that has been organised by Khoj International Artists’ Association. To be held at multiple venues in Khirkee Extension – Khoj Studios, the Sai Baba Mandir Road and Jamun Wala Park – the festival seeks to celebrate the cultural multiplicity of Khirkee, bringing to the foreground a variety of narratives about and from the neighbourhood through exhibitions, interventions, music, theatre, sports, bazaars and food.
Public Interventions:
The Festival will open with Ms Bahubali, a women’s arm wrestling competition. First organized in Khirkee by artist David Brazier as part of his residency at Khoj, the arm wrestling competition seeks to activate the public space of the neighbourhood, with participants responding to the context of the competition in different ways. Women from the various communities in Khirkee will compete for the title of Ms Bahubali and win a cash prize of Rs 5000. This will be held at 4 p.m. on December 14, 2017.
Another element of the festival is as series of sessions titled किस्से Connection which facilitate conversations between unlikely individuals. The idea is for people to delve into each others’ memories and find intersections and connections with their own. In a bid to affect the culture apathy that we live in, participants will go back with a sense of awe for the magic of conversing with strangers. The timings are 6pm-8pm on December 15; 6pm-8pm on December 16; 12pm-2pm on December 17.
At Khoj Studios, an active newsroom will be created, with a space for discussion, feedback and provoking conversations. A section of the wall panel will act as an idea board and will keep changing over the course of the festival as new ideas emerge from conversations around the newsroom. The timings are 6 pm on December 14;  6 pm on December 17.
Khirkee Talk show is another element of the festival which creates a space for open and honest dialogue between the Khirkee locals and the Africans who live in Khirkee, with a focus on specific themes to discover the diverse and deep connections that Indians and Africans share. The talk show will be held at 4-6pm on December 15 – December 17.
Also on December 17 at 12 noon, a candid conversation with photographer Chandan Gomes, who is a Delhi-based documentary photographer and has been photographing various aspects of the city over the past year, will take place.
From 2 p.m. onwards on December 17, Saif Mahmood, an Urdu expert and shayari enthusiast, and Aditi Angiras, slam poet and spoken word performer, will present a brief workshop on understanding slam poetry and shayari from historical and contemporary references. They will discuss the need of poetry as a compelling mode of creative expression. Participants will have an opportunity to discuss their own poems and get feedback from the facilitators.
EXHIBITIONS at Khoj Studios
Khoj Studios will host an exhibition of works emerging from the first Khirkee Residency, where artists Tito Aderemi-Ibitola (Nigeria), Aziz Hazara (Afghanistan), and Rajyashri Goody (India) will be showing the works they have produced in response to the neighbourhood of Khirkee.
Also on exhibit will be Khirkee Voice which is a quarterly, local newspaper produced by artist and researcher Malini Kochupillai and Mahavir Singh Bisht. The newspaper was first produced during Khoj’s 2016 edition of Coriolis Effect: Currents across India and Africa Residency, during which Kochupillai was a resident artist, and the newspaper has since been supported by Khoj as a community project.
Photographer Vinit Gupta will showcase portraits of the diverse population of the neighborhood at a ‘photobooth’ during the festival.
For the past nine months, a group of Afghani girls aged 5-14 have been meeting twice a week in Khoj Studios to draw, paint and make crafts with Aru Bose. Khoj Studios will feature a selection of their works as part of its exhibition for Khirkee Festival.
The rooftop of Khoj Studios will host a food and crafts bazaar, which will feature delicious food and unique crafts from Khirkee. Visitors to the festival can sample cuisines from Afghanistan to Nigeria, Bihar to Cameroon, all cooked by residents of Khirkee. Highlights include a stall by local Afghani burger joint Bamyan Burger and one by Sadaf Hussain, finalist of Masterchef India season
There will also be screenings of short music videos and films that were created as part of the Khirkee Storytelling Project led by Swati Janu. The people of Khirkee were invited to share their artistic talents and stories at a local recording studio set up Swati Janu. These began to be recorded as short videos through a process of co-production wherein mobile phones began to be gradually used for recording, design and editing with the participants. These low tech media artworks representing the diverse cultural mix of Khirkee are now exhibited at the festival, along with a glimpse into their behind the scenes stories. They have also been circulated within the local communities through the hyperlocal network of the local phone recharge shops and will be screened in the community park on December 17.
Young artists from inside and outside the neighbourhood will be making murals on the walls of Sai Mandir Road. These murals will be made in consultation with the local vendors and inhabitants of the street, keeping in mind the context and diversity of the neighbourhood.
Public performances in Jamun Wala Park will take place over the weekend. The Khirki Music Ensemble is a group of talented musicians from the diverse communities residing in Khirki. Launched by Anirban Ghosh, a professional musician, and Shahid- a music enthusiast from Nizamuddin Basti, and joined by amazing rappers (Anubhav and Ravi) and a young Bollywood singer (Kumud), two Congolese musicians (Romeo – guitar/vocals and Zoom – Bass man/vocals), this motley crew of young musicians has put together solid performances for the Khirki Festival.
Young members of the community will be putting on two short plays, Duniya Sabki and Kitaabein, made in collaboration with members of the Aagaaz Theatre Trust. Sanyukta Saha, an applied theatre practitioner, and 5 young people from Nizamuddin have been engaging with two groups of children on two different thematic processes.

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