Does violence have a colour? This event in Mumbai looks at violence and it's perception

Updated: Mar 21, 2017, 10:06 IST | Joanna Lobo |

A week-long event looks at violence and it's perception through an interactive research project, talks and film screenings

256 Million Colours of Violence, on display at The Mumbai Assembly, Bandra
256 Million Colours of Violence, on display at The Mumbai Assembly, Bandra

Its is an unusual survey question: what according to you is the colour of violence? As with any other survey, you are given the choice to select an option, from the 256 million-colour palette on Photoshop. The next question asks you to explain your choice.

The answers from this survey, which include 50 other questions, are part of an interactive research project by contemporary, transmedia artist Ali Akbar Mehta, titled 256 Million Colours of Violence. This week, you can catch the project at the Piramal Art Foundation and at Harkat Studios. The project is part of Limitations of Liability, an eight-day programme that began last Friday.

Ali Akbar Mehta
Ali Akbar Mehta

A different canvas
"The project asks a fundamental question. The exhibition displays people's choices and an explanation on why they chose that colour," says Mehta, 33, currently pursuing a master's in Visual Contemporary Culture in Art at Helsinki, Finland.

Mehta got the idea of doing the survey from the phrase used by then Union Home Minister P Chidambaram, following the Malegaon blasts: 'Saffron terror'. Then Janardan Dwivedi, Congress General Secretary, retaliated saying, 'Terrorism does not have any colour other than black'. "It made me wonder about whether people associated violence with a colour. If they did, it would be unique and dependent on different things - education, upbringing, parenting and cultural influences, Bollywood, religion and political views," he adds.

Shades of terror
The title of the project originated from the fact that Photoshop has 256 million colours in its digital palette, he shares. The other questions include personal details - education, height, relationship status and background - if you've been charged or convicted, refused or denied passport, and applied for/been granted political asylum to/by any foreign country. "Many of the questions are typical ones you've come across when filling any sort of document, at the passport office, your bank, even online. I'm putting them together to see if it generates a mapping of the personality behind the colour," shares Mehta.

The project was first exhibited in Helsinki last year; it made its Mumbai debut last weekend at The Mumbai Assembly. In the future, Mehta wants to look at the survey as an archive or library people can access. "I want to give information about the different options available. For instance, in the case of gender (in the survey), do you know there are 97 gender divisions (including cis, trans, gender queer, androgyne etc)," says Mehta.

The exhibition will also include a participation booth where guests can fill up the survey on the spot.

ON: March 25 to 28, 10 am to 9 pm
AT: Harkat Studios, Bungalow 75, Aram Nagar II, Versova, Andheri (W).

A talk on The Urgency of Asking Questions featuring Mehta in conversation with Kevin Lobo.
ON: March 24, 7 pm to 8.30 pm
AT: Piramal Art foundation

The showing at Harkat Studios begins with a preview (March 26, 6 pm to 9 pm). There will also be film screenings - 4.1 Miles, Nowhere Line Voices from Manus Island, Al Midan, The Pride of Strathmoor, Devil, How to Start a Revolution, Waltz with Bashir, Akrosh, and Ram Ke Naam.
ON: March 27 and 28, 10 am to 9 pm

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