I started by researching the idea of non-violence in Jainism (a religious ideology) and Mahatma Gandhi’s socio-political philosophy and ended up making a collaged landscape (with hints of the romantic) of mutilated body parts that mirrors and repeats in a pattern/narrative of escalating violence. The anatomy has a medieval quality to it that may remind us of the ‘medieval’ acts of violence and barbarism connoting the irrational and uncivilized and ask “how far have we come as a civilization?”
Is it mass murder, genocide, an act of terrorism, a consequence of war? We are curious to know the missing links of the piece but does violence need to fit into a larger narrative or moral logic for legitimization? Whose flesh is it? Whose bones are those? Whose blood is that - The offenders’ or the defenders’, the conquerors’ or the conquered’, the winners’ or the losers’, the civilians’ or the soldiers’? These are compelling questions that come to mind but the piece attempts to question the context-based categorization of violence as good or bad, depending on its purpose for individuals or state when real violence almost always feels senseless. Stripped of all its connotations, violence inevitably leads to more violence.
‘The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing that it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence, you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence.’
- Martin Luther King Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?
While in the process of making the piece, I felt a constant need to add more blood and gore. It didn’t seem enough to match up to what we have witnessed through the media, which raised questions about familiarity in my mind. Our consciousness is saturated with violent images. The fact that I stopped only when the image was full of blood was disturbing. It made me wonder about the fragility and vulnerability of our physical existence.