IHME Helsinki 2022: Amar Kanwar, Learning from Doubt
“If every moment contains the possibility of being alive and being dead then could an acute awareness of every moment also create an acute consciousness of living and dying? If a crime continues to occur regardless of the enormous evidence available then is the crime invisible or the evidence invisible or are both visible but not seen?”
The IHME Helsinki Commission 2022 Learning from Doubt by artist, film maker Amar Kanwar is an online, ten-week educational course based on and emerging from Kanwar´s art installation and exhibition The Sovereign Forest. Lessons learned from experiments on ecological sustainability with a unique rice seed bank in the village of Narisho in Odisha, India and the experiences gained during the making and exhibiting of The Sovereign Forest are integrated into the course.
The Sovereign Forest is an art project that has been ongoing since 2009 and has been evolving, expanding and experimenting with different forms and presentations. It has been made in collaboration with Samadrusti/ Sudhir Pattnaik and Sherna Dastur. Samadrusti is a fortnightly Odia political and social news magazine, Sudhir Pattnaik is the editor of Samadrusti and a social activist. Sherna Dastur is a graphic designer and filmmaker based in Delhi.
The project emerges primarily from the state of Odisha, Eastern India. Odisha has been the epicentre of conflicts between local communities and the government and corporations over the control of agricultural land, rivers, forests, mountains, and mineral sources. The forcible displacement of indigenous (tribal) communities and peasants has been a brutal part of the cycle of life since the 1950’s. How could we begin to comprehend differently, intervene, respond and develop solutions to this continuous cycle?
The Sovereign Forest attempts to initiate a creative response to our understanding of crime, politics, human rights, and ecology. The validity of poetry as evidence in a trial, the discourse on seeing, compassion, justice, and the determination of the self, all come together in a constellation of films, texts, books, photographs, seeds and processes. The Sovereign Forest has overlapping identities. It continuously reincarnates as an art installation, an exhibition, a library, a memorial, a public trial, an open call for the collection of more “evidence,” an archive, a school and also a proposition for a space that engages with education, politics and art. In 2022, in collaboration with IHME Helsinki, we again seek for another way to learn, share, address contradictions and dilemmas, and find newer solutions.
The online course Learning from Doubt will share in detail the making of the exhibition’s various elements: films, books, stories and processes. It will also share lessons learned from the engagement with the rice seed bank, its principles of indigenous seed ownership, conservation and farming. An experiment with seed sustainability will also be done in 2021 and the course will integrate this experience and evaluate the seed sustainability intervention.
The course will be taught online through films, readings, podcasts, and live interactive sessions with the artist.
Some of the films will also be shown in a physical location in Helsinki. Inputs and experiences from various multi-disciplinary collaborators will also be included throughout the course. It will include optional assignments designed to further personal and professional growth, and not for evaluation. Through the online course it is hoped that participants also gain an understanding of varied approaches and solutions on ecology, agriculture and sustainability issues as well as developing different parameters for measuring art, output and impact.
The online course Learning from Doubt will be available to all residents of Finland who may be interested to register. Students from the Fine Arts Academy of the University of Arts and from Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science of University of Helsinki will take part in the course over ten weeks in the Spring of 2022.
The course will take place 31.1.-6.3.2022 (five weeks ) and 14.3-17.4.2022 (five weeks) and the participants are advised to reserve 30-35 hours to do the whole course. The course will be conducted in English. Details on registration will be announced in Autumn 2021.