WAR • ROOM • ECHO : Regarding the Pain of Other Cyborgs

‘WAR • ROOM • ECHO – Regarding the Pain of other Cyborgs’, is a collaborative Performance Installation and Research Project. It is a gesamtkunstwerk on the idea of war and conflict that brings together:

  1. A 30 x 40 ft. site-specific charcoal drawing on War, viewed in a dark room with torchlight;
  2. A performance reading and typing of a 5117 year long ‘War List’ of every War, Battle, Revolution, Rebellion, Siege, Sacking and Insurgency;
  3. A data generated soundscape based on the live typing of the list;
  4. Cameras that automatically take photographs when triggered by the soundscape, creating a continual photographic documentation transforming the viewer into an active performer; and
  5. A memorial style installation of the War List mimicking vertical graves.

As a hybrid cross between an archeological site, a war memorial and a tomb, it is positioned as a PARA-museum that critically engages and disrupts existing power relations – performed in key sites that contain memories of war, trauma, violence, and/or are sites of knowledge production – conveying a collective memory. It traces the research process that forces us to look inwards – to examine the entire sum of human history as a history of conflict and identify with a global body of identity by re-looking at history as a documentation of ‘a civil war on a planetary scale’. One of the distinguishing features of modern life is that it supplies countless opportunities for regarding (at a distance) horrors taking place throughout the World. Images of atrocities have become commonplace. But are viewers inured, or incited, to violence by the depiction of cruelty? Is the viewer’s perception of reality eroded by the daily barrage of such images? What does it mean to care about the suffering of strangers in far off places? The project finds that violence and its perception are an unstable and contestable phenomenon shaped by social and material factors – a fundamental condition ‘lodged in the core of human experience.’  It is simultaneously private, public, self-intimating and collective – as is the experience of this installation. It insists that above all, to ignore what threatens us is both irresponsible and dangerous, and that paradoxically, there are realities that no image can convey.

One of the distinguishing features of modern life is that it supplies countless opportunities for regarding (at a distance) horrors taking place throughout the World. Images of atrocities have become something of a commonplace. But are viewers inured – or incited – to violence by the depiction of cruelty? Is the viewer’s perception of reality eroded by the daily barrage of such images? What does it mean to care about the suffering of strangers in far off places?

The tone of the Project is that of remembrance and sobriety. Our concern is not for representing war, but those who have died. We are dealing with memory. But rather than looking at War within the usual frameworks of national or international bodies of identity, we concern ourselves with collective memory and a global body of identity.

Previously, the performance has been executed in four spaces as part of projects/exhibitions in Mumbai, Helsinki and Tampere. The performances are part of an ongoing feature of the project – A endurance performance over several hours, sometimes days – where the act of reading, almost like a litany, the list of Every War, Battle, Sack, Siege, Revolt and Revolution from 3000 BC to the present, creating a tableaux of a 5017 year history of human conflict – becomes simultaneously an act of mourning, remembrance and a call for action, towards change.

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null.void; // a sermon of nothingness and a space odyssey of zero movement and tycho-magnetic anomalies Chimurenga Collective – Pan-African Space Station Kallio Public Library, Helsinki Finland, 2015
Ali Akbar Mehta_WAR•ROOM•ECHO_Performance at Pispala, Tampere, Finland_2016
Missä runous pesii? / Where does poetry nest? curated by Giovanna Esposito Yussif, Galleria Emil, Tampere, Finland, 2016
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Narrating War Clark House, Mumbai, 2017
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Narrating War Memory of War, Kapeli, Helsinki, 2017

 

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