Not your regular archive

Anjali Jhangiani
Tuesday, 16 January 2018

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘archive’? Do you imagine dusty piles of files and books? Or maybe an endless list of files on a computer screen? The artists selected for the residency programme at TIFA Working studios have turned the concept of ‘archive’ on its head. Each of them has given the word a whole new perspective, and during the four-week residency programme, they will explore the city, interact with the other artists in the programme, and work towards creating a presentation to share this with the world

Artists from around the world have got together for the annual residency programme at TIFA Working studios, with the theme for this year being ‘To participate in the archive: 2018’

What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘archive’? Do you imagine dusty piles of files and books? Or maybe an endless list of files on a computer screen? The artists selected for the residency programme at TIFA Working studios have turned the concept of ‘archive’ on its head. Each of them has given the word a whole new perspective, and during the four-week residency programme, they will explore the city, interact with the other artists in the programme, and work towards creating a presentation to share this with the world.

Out of the eight participants, we spoke to three who discussed their ideas with us, and told us how they actively plan ‘to participate in the archive’.

The colour of violence
Ali Akbar Mehta is a member of the Museum of Impossible Forms in Helsinki, Finland. He is here to work on his ongoing project called ‘256 Million Colours of Violence’ where he’s asking people to pick a colour that they think represents/ triggers/ is synonymous with or is in a strong way related to ‘violence’, and then fill out a survey to understand why they picked that colour. “The survey features questions that are familiar, like the ones you answer if you’re opening a new email account or a bank account or applying for a new passport. Of course I’ve added some of my own questions but they’re in line with the others like what are your sociological views, etc. These answers make the foundation for understanding the association with the person’s perception of violence and the consequential association of it with the colour they select,” says Mehta.

He makes one thing very clear — everything is connected. “To make any kind of simplistic statement like ‘There is no colour of violence’ or ‘Violence doesn’t have any association with ideological, religious or political bias’, is wrong. After starting this project, there was a slow realisation that one can’t simplify things as such. While someone may have an articulated explanation for their selection of colour, someone else might just select it intuitively, without logically decoding why they made that selection. But essentially, the form exists online and I’m constantly trying to encourage people to participate. The survey is lengthy and comprehensive, so it might be intimidating for some,” he adds.

Out of the list of questions on the survey, Mehta has two favourites — one has a list of violent acts and asks you to choose what you’ve been a victim of, while the other asks you in which acts you’ve played the role of a perpetrator. These two questions put people into a mental space where they come face to face with the concept of violence.

“For me, that is when the real work is happening. The survey is making people think about violence as a concept from various angles. Something I’ve always believed in is that the role of the perpetrator as well as the victim is within us, it is just how we deal with a situation, and the power dynamics we have with the people involved in it, that we take on a role for ourselves,” says Mehta.

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