Inah Kim



There is no doubt that the investigation we were to conduct on the sites of Delhi in the sense of Beloning was to be limited through a tourist’s lens. One of the most difficult parts of walking into a space with the idea that we were to conduct a sort of research, was knowing that our approach was going to be just a mere glimpse of what actually happens in this place as well as what is envisaged for it.

Through the course of the six days we were to spend in the space, it was mesmerizing to witness how the imagined, framed, and mapped space has become so multifarious and alive to each one of us in different ways. The fragments I took home with me will nevertheless stay as they are, while Kishangarh will be continuously confronted with changes. It was an amazing experience to have witnessed the temporality of this place, which has now become a part of my memory.


Final Outcome 

For the excursion that took place between the 24th of February and the 3rd of March 2023, the participants were to submit an “outcome” by the 31st of March. The word outcome seemingly had a pressuring undertone. It felt like it meant something indicating a concrete final thought, without further possibilities in making changes or refinements or even complete deconstruction of the initial impressions. 

Our group, which walked along the main streets of the “urban village” in Kishangarh, New Delhi, knew as we got to know this place better and better, that the only thing that could be stated with certainty, was its fate of constant change. Any concluding observations were going to be one day not valid anymore. The expectations of the outcome for me personally were burdening in the sense, as I knew that any hints and brief moments of passing thoughts were immature. I also knew already before leaving this place, I would like to develop further thoughts beyond just these mere impressions, and that my thoughts would undergo change and also Kishangarh itself as well. 

Having studied Art History in my B.A. and also studying European Art History in my master’s program, I have never been confronted with an object of study through the present tense. In architectural history classes, it was never about the living or the lived spaces, nor about a space actively going through its transition and transformation. The transitions and histories of the places and buildings we talked about were always captured in hindsight, where we were tricked into thinking that we can see how the narratives and the thoughts of the people involved in making the space panned out. In the mode of “capturing history” that I was familiarized with through my studies, the events, and thoughts that happened first were told first and the latter ones later. It was written in the sense as if the preceding stories had an “influence” on the forthcoming ones. It was never the other way around, where for instance the expectations about the year 1837 had a great impact on the year 1835. 

Walking along the streets in Kishangarh with a group of students from Delhi and Kathmandu, as we were told stories from the people living here, the historical understanding of temporality seemed to start falling apart. 

Tim Ingold, in his essay “The Turn of the Present and the Future’s Past” which was published in the online journal e-flux in September 2022, contrasts the two words “projection” and “storytelling,” as the author talks about the correlations between the narrative building between the past, presents and the future. He says: 

We cannot leap-frog our way into the future, or jump the queue. There is something illusory about the conceit that we can plan the future from the standpoint of the present, whether in terms of the education curriculum, the designs of architecture, or the predictions of science. This is because the direction of projection is contrary to the flow of life. It amounts to a hold-up, which can only be broken by shelving the project and installing another in its place. Projection, in this regard, is the precise opposite of storytelling, in which the story and the life of which it tells are oriented in the same direction. To live the story is not to pivot of the present, but at every moment, to follow the thread of the future’s past.[1]

It was nonetheless apparent that the temporalities and the modalities of Kishangarh of the inhabitants and the ones envisioned by the government were displaying vast disparities. As we were talking to more and more residents, certain keywords came up more frequently. It was, we could conclude (in a very reductive mode in viewing these terms) that senses of ownership, attachment, movement, and different imaginaries were playing a key role in shaping the physicalities of Kishangarh.  

Figure 1 Keywords and associations with senses of belonging that were mentioned repeatedly throughout the interviews
Figure 2 Selected stretches of the study


Figure 3 Mapping of the locations of the photos taken of building facades

As we were walking through the stretch of the “metro street,” the coexistence of different building styles became very apparent to us (fig. 2). While wandering in this area, one could observe, on the one side, the construction site being built, – and how it also was covering the window of the women, that was looking out towards the scenes of the street.


Figure 4 Construction site across the fruit juice shop


The building in which the woman was living, for instance, was one of the older types of buildings that were built around 40 years ago (fig. 4). The visible iron support structure indicated the age of the building (fig 5).

Figure 5 Building with an iron structure, indicating the age of the building

The contrast was then more apparent through these types of “modern” style buildings (fig. 6), that were to be intermittently found in this metro street. The students were discussing how these building styles could be found somehow anywhere in the world, carrying a sense of homogeneity of style in these newer types of residential areas. While interviewing the different people, we could relate and associate keywords like “wealth” or ideas, that it is “suitable for the incoming population, that will surge with the construction of the metro.” It was intriguing to see the associations derived from these interviews, that these building styles are to be seen as reactions or responses toward future expectations, developments, and global property values. The process of homemaking or cityscape making then also is to be associated with the diversity of this scenery, the homogenized style of the modern building accompanied by the red brick buildings displaying individualistic style choices, as well as the older building, that the sweet shop owner has told us, that it will in the upcoming future be demolished, as well as the incoming building, illustrates well the multiple temporalities. It is also important not to forget the different reactions associated with these stylistic appearances.

Figure 6 Facade of the building that was often referred to as “modern”

Questions such as: How does the process of the real estate market bring forth certain housing typologies and neighboring processes? Or “What types of ideas can be associated with these building typologies?” arose. We could observe that the aesthetics of these buildings were also to be seen as reactions towards the real estate speculations that could be associated with ideas of development and wealth. The manifestations of such exteriorities of the facades are then not seen to be mere individualistic choices but a reaction to a bigger market. The interplay between the governmental as well as the global economy, and the individual modes of space-making was at large the most apparent aspect in observing the manifestation of different facades in Kishangarh.

[1] Tim Ingold, “The Turn of the Present and the Future’s Past”, e-flux, September 2022

Participants Bio

Inah Kim is a graduate student of M.A. European Art History and Transcultural Studies in Heidelberg. Growing up between South Korea, USA and Germany has shaped her interests in different modes of communication through visual language. Through her studies in Heidelberg, her academic interest shifted towards Global Art History, Ecological Art as well as Photography History.