A House of Strug­gle

Tucked away in an old but re­fur­bished build­ing in Ahmed­abad is the Con­flic­to­rium—In­dia’s first mu­seum ded­i­cated to con­flict

India Today - - FEATURE - By Aditi Pai

ADRIVE THROUGH THE crowded streets of Ahmed­abad takes you to Mirza­pur, a lo­cal­ity that’s a far cry from the swanky neigh­bour­hoods of the city. Here you see poverty, some filth and the Con­flic­to­rium—In­dia’s first mu­seum ded­i­cated to con­flict—tucked away in an old but re­fur­bished build­ing. Here, art has been cu­rated on the theme of strug­gle, war, pain and con­flict. Few res­i­dents of the state’s most modern city have even heard of it. But lo­cals of­ten walk in, undis­turbed by any bar­ri­cades or en­try fees The mu­seum was set up in April 2013 by Avni Sethi, 27, an artist and dancer who con­cep­tu­alised the Con­flic­to­rium as an in­ter­ac­tive space that ad­dresses the con­cept of strug­gle through art in var­ied forms—po­etry, in­stal­la­tions, art­works and work­shops.

The 1985 clashes over caste-based reser­va­tions that led to an ex­o­dus of the Dab­gar com­mu­nity, at­tacks on al­leged cow slaughter, the 2002 com­mu­nal ri­ots that set the state ablaze or mi­nor skir­mishes in the mo­halla—Gu­jarat has wit­nessed nu­mer­ous con­flicts, both big and small. A walk through this build­ing takes you through per­ma­nent col­lec­tions that tell sto­ries of di­ver­gence and un­rest but what makes this a vi­brant space are the talks, book read­ings recitals and ex­hibits by peo­ple that re­flect on the same theme.

Walk through

The Con­flict Time­line talks about a his­tory of vi­o­lence start­ing from 1959 dur­ing the for­ma­tion of Gu­jarat state right to the present; the Em­pa­thy Al­ley is an­other sec­tion that’s in­ter­est­ing, with sil­hou­ettes of noted po­lit­i­cal lead­ers with their fa­mous speeches. What re­solves a con­flict—in the mind or on the road? An apol­ogy. So, there’s a Sorry Tree where peo­ple pin up notes of apol­ogy for any hurt they might have caused to some­one else.

Meet and Greet

The space wel­comes peo­ple to en­gage in dis­cus­sions. Last month, the three part se­ries on

Read­ings And Re­flec­tions On Geno­cide, put to­gether by Re­vati Laul ad­dressed the Han­nah Arendt, The Holo­caust and the Balkan Wars.

Her­itage Past

The Con­flic­to­rium is housed in Gool Lodge, an old build­ing which was home to Bachuben Na­gar­wala, Ahmed­abad’s first cer­ti­fied hair stylist and beau­ti­cian.

At Gool Lodge, Op­po­site RC High School of Com­merce, Delhi Chakla, Ahmed­abad

The Con­flic­to­rium is an in­ter­ac­tive space that ad­dresses the con­cept of strug­gle through art in var­ied forms

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