'Artists Against AFSPA' Events, Dec 9, South Bombay

by Chandni on Dec 08, 2011      Category: Tags: npsbm

From: Clark House Bombay <info@clarkhouseinitiative.org>
Subject: Against AFSPA | National Gallery of Modern Art | 9 December | 5pm-9pm

Artists against AFSPA supporting Irom Sharmila
Performance | Panel Discussion | Procession of Flags by Artists | Film Screening 
National Gallery of Modern Art Mumbai - Auditorium 4th Floor
Friday 9 December 2011 | 5pm-9pm

Aditi Chitre, Iris Yingzen, Nalini Malani, Raqs Media Collective,

Rekha Rodwittiya, Riyas Komu, Sharmila Samant, Shilpa Gupta,

Surendran Nair, Vasudha Thozhur, Tushar Joag

Raqs Media Collective, 2011

5pm-9pm | Performance | Tushar Joag  

5pm | History of the Irom Sharmila Solidarity Campaign | Mukta Srivastava 

5.15pm | Discussion of AFSPA in art and law | Mihir Desai, Flavia Agnes, Ritu Diwan, Zasha Colah

6.15pm | Procession of Artist's Flags | Carried to NGMA by students of JJ School of Art, Rachna Sansad and MSU Baroda, led by Sharmila Samant and Sumesh Sharma

6.30pm | Film Screening | A screening of films takes up the struggle for identity, and the removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958 from the viewpoint of Manipur. 

Yirmiyan Arthur Yhome, Phalee, 2008

Kavita Joshi, Tales from the Margins, 2006

Haobam Pawan Kumar, AFSPA 1958, 2006
Desire Machine, Daily Check-up, 2005 
Radhamohini Prasad, Machis Ko Sinka, 2008
The Armed Forces (Special Powers) act, 1958 and the Nagaland Security Regulation, 1962 are acts that give constitutional rights to even the most junior officers of the army to kill on grounds of mere suspicion, and warrants to search, burn and destroy any place in the so-called ‘disturbed areas’ with legal impunity and immunity. It also allowed the removal of entire villages to another area for any length of time, which Temsula Ao, a Naga writer, describes within the pages of a story, "Some villages to which the underground leaders belonged, were severely punished. The houses were ransacked by the security forces, the grain in their barns was burnt and the people themselves were herded into camps away from the village and kept in virtual imprisonment inside areas fenced in by bamboo stockades. This form of group incarceration was the infamous ‘grouping’ of villages which the Nagas hated more than bullets…" (Professor Temsula Ao, ‘The Jungle Man’ in These Hills Called Home: Stories From A War Zone, Zubaan, New Delhi, 2006. p.3).
This exhibition is proposed keeping in mind a systemic horizon line of a single judicial system, behind which is a darkness that cannot be held to account, where people disappear in custody. The back door of an armed jeep, over which a person is being hauled into a dark space that will remain off-the-record, is a conceit proposed here for the line whose existence is nearly always invisible, meant to be unacknowledged, by which certain people can continue to be on the right side of the law. On the other side of this line people live in an unremitting state of vulnerability to arbitrary persecution based on years-old violence, where even their following the same law does not protect them from harm. In the middle of the afternoon where children are playing, a uniformed man can trample over her garden, to torture, rape and murder a young woman. This man will never stand trial, and will never face a sentence. Immunity turns into state terror, and is proportionate to brutality. 
Over and above its functioning, the AFSPA has become a symbol of oppression in these areas. Its removal is a real, but also a psychological necessity. Two images have entered the popular consciousness. The first, of Irom Sharmila being force-fed in police custody through a plastic tube attached to her nose down her throat, into her stomach. The other, of women screaming naked outside the gate of the Assma Rifles in Manipur after the rape and brutal murder of Manorama Devi.  
The human rights activist Irom Sharmila has been on a hunger fast since 2000 for the removal of the AFSPA broken only when she is forcefully fed, her suicide being illegal. As in the graffiti that marks the streets of Delhi and Bombay, she has become an icon against unconstitutional laws. In this screening of films, we hear her speak in interviews. The case of Manorama Devi from 2004 was re-opened after six years in 2010. Since it is impossible to reopen a case without the Prime Minister himself intervening, the re-opened case has become a symbol of a community's treacherous journey: a distant voice from the disadvantaged, periphery of the country, labeled a disturbed area, to the centre, through the legalese of hostile unconstitutional laws framed against it ever being heard.
Symbols are the domain of propaganda; but art can rupture its easy binaries. Uncertain of the methods of activism alone, we propose a way of working within contexts, where the making of symbols, is the making of alternative possibilities. Artists panning all regions of India have been invited to make artworks in the form of long vertical flags for this event. The flags will take up a temporary space within the auditorium, that begins with a performative gesture, as in a march, or parade of the works through the city. The students of Sir JJ School of Art, the Rachna Sansad Academy of Fine Art, and MSU Baroda have volunteered to help in this. Later, they will be mounted on flag-posts already existent along the NGMA boundary, in a way that the works can enter the street and a larger public. 
Curated by Zasha Colah of the Clark House Initiative on the invitation of the conveners Tushar Joag and Sharmila Samant in collaboration with the National Gallery of Modern Art. Assisted by Nikhil Raunak and Sachin Bonde. Program supported by the Save Sharmila Solidarity Campaign Mumbai.

Venue Directions: National Gallery of Modern Art, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Fort, Mumbai 400032. Tel: 022 - 22881971. Opposite Regal Cinema and the Prince of Wales Museum. 

Transport: Bus or Taxi from the nearest stations, Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (Central Railway) and Churchgate (Western Railway). Bus Numbers from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus: 14, 69, 101,130 Bus Numbers from Churchgate: 70, 106, 122, 123, 132, 137

For information please call +91 9829213816.


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