Conflicts find a place here

Conflictorium provides platform for artists

Conflicts find a place here

At the museum, all conflicts in Gujarat from 1960 are on display

Museum by definition is a building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited. This place in Ahmedabad narrates history, touches upon facts and yet like conventional museums does not have the tag of “please do not touch.”

Visitors can touch things on display and pick up objects at this museum called Conflictorium--the museum of conflicts. The one of its kind in the country, this is a place that narrates various conflicts that have been reported in Gujarat since its formation in 1960.

So while the place might be attracting the attention of visitors for its unique concept, it is also a place that is providing a platform for budding artists who display their expressions and some after their exhibitions and performances have gone on to make it big as well. It is a place which enables visitors to move around at their own leisure and read the innumerable documentation work that is on display.

Conflictorium is set up with the intention of giving a vent to the mind space, it has become a place for those who want to express their opinion and want that space of freedom to express the conflicts within themselves.

Conflictorium houses an art gallery, a small auditorium apart from the display area for art work. This place also has a cafeteria which ensures that a visitor gets to spend some time in the area in a relaxed atmosphere and read about all the unknown facts of the Gujarat conflicts.

The museum, which was inaugurated in April last year, is the brainchild of Avani Sethi and set up in collaboration with Navsarjan, Janvikas and Ideal Centre for Social Justice and associate partners. The bungalow, which houses Conflictorium, acts like a third space to create a dialogue through art.

The bungalow too has its own history for the city of Ahmedabad. It has been donated to a trust, which is managed by the first trained beautician of the city.   Bachuben Nagarwala, who has been the owner of this bungalow, decided to donate it for the cause. “As she is a part of history of the city, she wanted it to be donated for a cause which will be of some use to the people of city,’’ said Shefali, who works at Conflictorium.

The museum has a history of different kind of conflicts that Gujarat has witnessed in the past. While it begins with the 1960 conflict which created Gujarat out of Maharashtra, it goes on narrate the Maha Gujarat movement. It also highlights the natural conflicts that have occurred in Gujarat and led to the loss of life. It talks about plague in Surat in 1994 and also the killer earthquake in Bhuj in 2001. Any incident that has taken any life in Gujarat finds a mention in this Conflictorium.

It even has 2002 Gujarat riots, which continues to hog limelight and an election issue with BJP projecting Chief Minister Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate. Besides, it talks of even minor skirmishes in the city and neighbouring districts. Conflictorium points out to the latest killings of dalits in police firing in Thangarh in North Gujarat. The displacement of people due to the Sardar Sarovar Dam and the building of the Sabarmati River Front also find a mention in the analogy of the conflictorium.

“It is a regular process of update, it may be a very minute skirmish but some incident which has led to the disturbance of the social fabric of the state does find a mention in this,’’ said Shefali.

There is an auditorium which constantly screens those dialogues from popular Bollywood films, which teaches people to say sorry. There are scenes from flicks like “Munnabhai MBBS” teaching to say sorry. There is also a “sorry tree” at one of the balconies. If the visitors wants to say sorry to someone, this is the place where they can do so.

“We have kept tags reading ‘I am Sorry’ and a pen so that when you visit this place and realise you need to apologise to someone whom you have not been able to, here is a chance to do so,’’ said Shefali.  So from the branches of this tree are a number of tags hanging out with messages of sorry from the visitors to their friends and acquai­ntances.

She said every visitor who comes to Conflictorium is tempted to pen down a sorry message. She says that there have been instances where people first write the sorry message and then accompany the person for whom the message has been written. “It is easier to say sorry in this way,”  Shefali pointed out.

But that’s not all; the museum has some real  unheard things to do and experience : Conflict Timeline, Theatre Of Conscience, Inner purity, Empathy alley, Moral Compass, Memory lab, Power Of The New, Perspectives, Third side café, Reconciliation workshop, Gallery Of Disputes, Touch/Be Touched, Conversation Quadrangle .

“There is also, ‘In the house and in that world’ where the visitor gets to listen to the audio clip while sitting in front of the same mirror that was used by Bachuben, you will see your inner side in the mirror,” explained Shefali. It is still to find a place in the tourism map of the city, but the unique concept has been attracting the attention of visitors to the city for its unique concept.

Swati Bhan in Ahmedabad

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