KHOJ collaboratively organised a four-day workshop titled Imagine Peace! with Design2context, (Institute for Design Research at the Zurich University of the Arts), which works internationally to foster the idea of a new iconography of peace or non-conflict. The workshop organized by KHOJ and Design2context was the fifth in a series of workshops. By January 2009, these workshops would have taken place in four different regions around the globe where conflict and violence can vitally delineate the socio-political landscape – El Salvador, Brazil, Dalian, Colombia and tentatively Ethiopia and Rwanda. The workshop was facilitated by Professor Clemens Bellut, co-director of Design2context, and participation was by invitation. The four-day programme included an evening of public presentations by artists in the Main Auditorium at the India International Centre.
The workshops resulted in a major publication titled Imagine Peace!, a visual encyclopedia of peace with text and image contributions from artists as well as recognised scientists, politicians, philosophers, politologists, etc. At KHOJ, one of our primary concerns is to encourage dialogue, to foster interactions and exchange through the sharing of ideas and concerns. In the contemporary era of global conflict, a workshop of this nature was imperative, forcing us to think about the nature of peace and its relationship to conflict.Imagine Peace! had a tremendous impact on all the participants; the participants from India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka included artists, designers, writers, academicians, photographers and film-makers, many of whom were from regions that continue to be in the throes of situations of conflict- civil and military. The goal of the workshop was to search for local representations (imageries, signs, cultural elements, drawings) of peace, question or analyse these representations and create new visualisations according to the local and individual perspectives. Through reflections and discussions on the relationship between the current aesthetics of peace, fiction, commons, and utopia (in India or neighboring countries), we hopec to address questions about the creation of a new aesthetic through which local situations of conflict and peace could be represented and addressed. Can the search of an aesthetic of peace shed light on the meaning, structures and functions of the fictions surrounding its concept? Under what circumstances is peace represented, in a negative, positive or utopian perspective?
An essential module of Imagine Peace! constituted films curated for the workshop by Gargi Sen (documentary film maker) (www.magiclanternfoundation.org) as part of Persistence-Resistance 2009, a South Asian film festival that was organised at the India International Centre around the themes of peace/conflict.