The cost of conflict

An installation that relies on film, text, books and photographs to discuss the conflict in Odisha

Getting Amar Kanwar on the phone is tough. “The video installation has a number of components that must be installed so that it makes the work comprehensive. As the space changes, the exhibition design does too,” says the 51-year-old video artist and filmmaker, referring to our delayed conversation.

He has been busy setting up two video installations in Mumbai, his home over the next three months.

The installation, as set up in Austria in 2014. pic/Jens Ziehe
The installation, as set up in Austria in 2014. Pic/Jens Ziehe

“The Sovereign Forest is a work based on the conflict in Odisha, with communities of farmers and indigenous tribes on one side and the government and mining corporations on the other. The work tries to convey the human and environmental cost of such a conflict. Forests, agricultural land, rivers, coastlines, homes and livelihoods are under severe assault,” says Kanwar. The installation includes a mix of elements including two films — The Scene of Crime (2011) and A Love Story (2010) — six books that compile text and photographic evidence recalling the resistance political and corporate violations and the refusal to acknowledge the dead and disappeared.

Amar Kanwar
Amar Kanwar

The Sovereign Forest initiates a creative response to our understanding of crime, politics, human rights and ecology. “The validity of poetry as evidence in a trial, the discourse on seeing, on compassion, justice, and the determination of the self – all come together,” he says of the work which is a collaboration with Sudhir Pattnaik of Oriya news magazine, Samadrusti, and Sherna Dastur, graphic designer and filmmaker. It also carries traces of long-term collaborations with other artists, activists, farmers and organisations.

The second installation titled The Lightning Testimonies will be up on display between January 23 and March 6, 2016. It’s an eight-video projection installation that carries testimonies of sexual violence against women during times of conflict. It spans multiple sites, eras and voices.

When: Ongoing till March 6, 2016 
Where: Max Mueller Bhavan, K Dubash Marg, Kala Ghoda 
Call: 22027710

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