By Prakhar Patidar
Museums are physical expressions of history via stories told through artefacts. This is what we know of them: space that is dedicated to reviving the past, remembering the history through what is left of it. Usually, these are dedicated to things and themes considered important enough to be preserved: wars, victories, kings and kingdoms, valuable art, heritage, etc. Apart from these important subjects, there's a space for the 'interesting' in the museum space. Occasionally we come across museums based on bizarre concepts like the museum of bad art in the United States.
Conflictorium: the museum of conflicts, founded by Avni Sethi, does not fit into either of these traditional categories. Based on a unique concept this alternative museum has been active since 2013 and offers an immersive experience to the visitors through participative art and exhibits. The museum website says, "the Conflictorium is a space that strives to engage every section of society with a variety of conflict issues, by celebrating plurality and encouraging conflict expression and avoidance in artistic and creative ways."
The main exhibits in the museum revolve around:
The complex relationship of conflicts and histories
The violent and oppressive history of Gujarat
Various conflicts in our society and their causes
National leaders and their ideologies in the post-independent India
The pre-1977 version of our constitution, and,
Not only does the museum deal with conflict, but the very place it exists, Mirzapur, Ahmedabad, has a history of conflict owing to the constant communal tension in the air. In what this museum is trying to do and the space it chooses for this cause, we find its relevance with the relationship our independence struggle, freedom and the aftermath share with conflicts. It is important to look back and understand how deep these conflicts run, within the community and between the neighbouring countries and find ways to create discourses around these conflicts. No society exists without conflict, but ignorance of it hasn't worked out for anyone in history. Conflictorium believes it is time we find ways other than ignorance, avoidance or violence to deal with conflicts.
This week is a perfect opportunity to visit Conflictorium as most of the exhibits directly reflect on India's independence and what has followed.
Find more about conflictorium here: https://www.conflictorium.org/meet-our-team/