Manoj Kesavan — Making Things Happen: On Life and Meaning

manoj kesavan

Manoj Kesavan is a cultural catalyst and creative instigator. He is co-founder of Que-OS, a non-profit collective of creative professionals who plan and activate spaces for community and cultural engagement. Que-OS is the organizational enterprise behind BOOM Charlotte, an artist-led, annual, three-day fringe festival showcasing contemporary and experimental performance and visual art. Manoj is also the founder of Point 8 Forum, a gathering of artists, architects and designers who explore multidisciplinary topics and encourage free thought, inquiry and creativity. He is the organizer of PechaKucha Charlotte, an event presentation series, and served as a founding team member of TEDx Charlotte. Manoj holds a Masters of Architecture degree from Kansas State University and Bachelors of Architecture degree from the University of Kerala, India.

This episode is perfect for anyone interested in instigating creative and cultural change and social practice as art. 

In This Episode
In This Episode


  • Manoj talks about BOOM Charlotte and what motivated its launch.
  • He explains the experimental operating model that sustains BOOM Charlotte and the importance of the model in the evolution of art in Charlotte.
  • He references Wikipedia, early century Paris, mid-century Latin America, and the Harlem Renaissance.
  • He addresses how BOOM Charlotte seeks to be open and inclusive, yet curated, and what he thinks of curatorial judgment.
  • Manoj discusses the art of social practice, the limitations of definitions, and the evolution from making things to making things happen.
  • He references Theaster Gates, Natalie Jeremijenko and Mel Chin.
  • He connects the Greek transcendental concerns of beauty, truth and justice with worker housing in Stuttgart and fixing the deep social and environmental issues of the world.
  • He assesses the art scene in Charlotte and identifies barriers and obstacles to art flourishing in the city.
  • Manoj shares where he grew up, being born in a Brahman family, and how upheavals and moving from one place to another shaped him.
  • He references the poem Homesickness by Marina Tsvetaevabeing an outsider, and Albert Camus’ The Stranger.
  • He talks about speaking Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi, what drew him to architecture, and when and why he came to America and to Charlotte.
  • He discusses the origins of the Point8 Forum, PechaKucha Charlotte, Que-OS, and the leap of faith of creative initiatives.
  • He references Fyodor Dostoevsky, Emily Dickenson, Rainer Maria Rilke and struggling with depression.
  • Manoj considers who is an artist and taking a stance in the world.

Mark Peres adds a personal word that begins this way, “Manoj Kesavan poses the question, ‘What must I do?’  For him the answer is, he must make things happen…”

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