An exploration of what powers hatred

An introduction to Sujatro Ghosh’s project for Oyoun’s Embodied Temporalities curatorial focus: “The Geograhpy of Hate”

This project was birthed in the immediate wake of developments taking place within the political and cultural fabric of India. State-mandated persecution of a specific ethno-religious community has an obvious uncanny parallel in twentieth-century history, and one does not need to perform much mental gymnastics to discern a disturbing trend patterned on developments which had taken place in Italy and Germany in the 1930s. Ethnic cleansing and racial pogroms have been the stark and brutal realities of the recent past and must be treated not as examples to be emulated but as cautionary tales marking the rock bottom of human depravity. It is never too late to learn from the errors of the past, but it is crucially important to not let history repeat itself, especially when such history is predicated upon the forceful erasure and obliteration of an entire community and demographic.

Fascism operates by privileging one community/population group at the expense of others on the basis of reasons stemming from perceived (and biased) notions of superiority. Fascist forces contrive to unite these privileged groups into an undifferentiated mass who share the same ethnic, racial, religious, and socio-political identity while simultaneously excluding all non-conforming groups who are consequently relegated into a blanket ‘Other,’ a perverse and demonic force which must be kept out at all costs. This inclusion/exclusion strategy functions by inhibiting thinking and questioning; everybody must obey and follow but is forbidden from asking questions or raising doubts. This project aims at levying a two-pronged attack at fascism and its modus operandi — as a counterpoint to fascism’s racially/ethno-religiously/socio-politically orientated unification, this project attempts to unify individuals and communities through the edifying and transformative power of art, and in contrast to the stultification of thought and the critical spirit of inquiry that is characteristic of fascist ideological praxis, this project seeks to re-trigger critical thinking by encouraging participants to ask questions about thorny issues, about ideas and occurrences that provoke unrest, disturbance, and discomfort.

This project is titled ‘Geography of Hate’ because, at its core, it is an exploration of what powers hatred — in this case, hatred directed towards a particular religious community — and why within a specific geographical location — in this case, the Indian subcontinent. However, in many ways, even as the project is bounded by a certain geo-political context, it simultaneously transcends contextual specificities to embrace a global geographical poetics in its choice of participants (who are drawn from all corners of the world and without discrimination on the basis of race, class, caste, ethnicity, political belief, cultural identity, or sexual orientation) as well as its rhythms of operation (mapping participant responses on a graph whose aleatory patterns create a unique geo-spatial construct). The project also demonstrates a different kind of unity whereby all participants, despite differences in national/ cultural/ social/ political/ economic/ religious/ racial/ ethnic/ sexual identity, have the same base visceral response to violence. This project impactfully proves that by partaking in the shared embodied experience of the human condition, individuals possess the capacity to ultimately rise above petty external differences and how such a transcendental leap is crucially assisted by the redemptive power of art and the artist’s vision. Above all, this project is intended to curate a museum of remembrance, to ensure that injustice isn’t swept under the carpet but recorded within collective cultural memory as a testament to the horrors of human history.

– Sujatro Ghosh

Sujatro in conversation with exhibition co-curator Arijit Bhattacharyya:

Opening Night Performance | Farah Deen + Karin Cheng

Opening Night Performance | Fatmanur Sahin + Carolin Spille