Vera List Center Jane Lombard Award winner Avni Sethi makes her Aronson Galleries debut

Conflictorium, Right to freedom of speech and expression, view of the installation. Photo by Shristi Sharma. Courtesy of the Conflictorium Archives.

Vera List Center Jane Lombard Award winner Avni Sethi makes her Aronson Galleries debut

Conflitorium, also known as the Museum of Conflict, is a unique interactive experience based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, where visitors experience the very human nature of conflict and learn to accept conflict in life and find new ways of dealing with conflict. dialogue in order to create progress on contentious issues. Rooted in the political dimensions of his immediate environment, Conflictorium uses lyrical triggers to recalibrate what has been frozen in silence, and it is through this sense of the political dimension of poetics that he approaches the often unspeakable nature. trauma.

The museum was founded by Avni Sethi, who won the Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice for his work. Vera List Center for Art and Politics, who awarded the prize to Avni, will present a new show, Due to a certain void: Conflictorium infrastructure, from October 9 to 24, 2021 at Galeries Aronson.

The show, which is inspired by Conflictorium in Ahmedabad, is part of VLC 2021 Forum: As for protocols, which highlights the protocol-related work of each of the 2020-2022 Jane Lombard Fellows, online and in person from October 12-16, 2021. Each day of the Forum is dedicated to an exemplary artistic project advancing social justice in its community. In addition to Avni, featured artists include Jane Lombard Fellows: Emeka Okereke (Lagos / Berlin), NayanTara Gurung Kakshapati (Kathmandu), Underground Resistance (Detroit) and Jorge González (San Juan, PR).

“I’ve always thought of this work as one that needs to sit on the slow burner, quietly, continuously, without a spectacle,” says Avni. “Building a space of possibilities is also constantly sitting down with uncertainty – the prize at this point is an assertion that stillness can be heard too. “

Avni was originally inspired to create Conflictorium due to the overwhelming nature of witnessing violence and trying to find ways to process and understand his emotions in the face of conflict. While she found it difficult to decide which aspects of her original museum’s methodologies can fit into an exhibit, she is enthusiastic and eager to create a new atmosphere of conversation in a very different setting from the Conflictorium space. in India.

Due to a certain void, like the Conflictorium, hopes to be a space for reflection, a space where nothing is on display but where there are people and opportunities to have a conversation, to read critically, to also abandon the compulsive exercises of creation of meaning, ”says Avni. “I hope visitors can breathe, be with themselves, pause and meditate on the many types of infrastructure that engulf us, those that have failed, those that are promising, those that bring joy, those that that we want to build and those that we collectively dismantle. . “

“Against all odds,” says Carin Kuoni, senior director and chief curator of the VLC, “despite an easing of the pandemic at least in New York City, we cannot go back to our old ways. The extraordinary police violence against people of color, the drastic decline in educational opportunities, a growing wealth gap, all made shocking during these months of endless pandemic, require a radical overhaul of our cultural organizations and their role. in democratic societies. Conflictorium and this exhibit at The New School offer us a glimpse into what a museum can do in communities and an opportunity to recalibrate our cultural work tools, approaches and infrastructure, and I look forward to exploring them with students and the teachers of The New School. “

For Avni, winning the Jane Lombard Award gave him the opportunity to think about his art practice beyond traditional emergency settings, and instead allowed him to start “creating” his practice.

“An award is a catalyst for dreams that are on the back burner, that have not yet taken shape because they are not pressing here and now,” she says. “Performance has been one of my long-standing interests. I maintain a new space in Ahmedabad called Ordo Performance Collaboratory which allows experiments in performance. Hopefully, this becomes a resource that performance creators and audiences can use to interact, build, and disseminate inside. “

Conflictorium is also setting up a new museum in the city of Raipur, Chattisgarh, India, where Avni hopes to better articulate the methodology and work of the museum.

Luz W. German