2020 | Cartographic Anxieties | Conflictorium, Ahmedabad


Media Coverage: Understanding Changing Maps

The art project—A Conflict Sustained—focuses on the ways in which a legal system of a city fuels the segregation and the social consciousness of communal divide to produce, or—in many cases—sustain conflict. Through the case example of Ahmedabad, it foregrounds the ways in which the Disturbed Areas Act, 1991—a legal tool of urban segregation—not only ensures spatial segregation but also sustains the divide between communities based on their religion.

Cities have been sites of conflict across time and space. Be it the gang wars in Bogota, racial discrimination and segregation in Durban, or, closer to home, the violent history of Ahmedabad; cities have been centers of segregation and its manifestation as violence. 

The artwork comprises of an installation 36”x36” in MDF sheet, acrylic, cement, epoxy, oxide pigments, to represent the implications of the Disturbed Areas Act in the Paldi neighborhood of Ahmedabad. It represents the following: 1. the Sabarmati river [lit blue]; 2. the “border” [lit yellow]—a notional border—an undefined but socially practiced divide. Here it manifests as a road across which communities prefer to not cross; 3. the properties under the Disturbed Areas Act [shown sunk and colored red]; 4. Paldi neighborhood [colored black]; 5. morphology of the built form and road network [marked white on a transparent sheet]; 6. religious institutions in yellow blocks; 7. Excerpts from the Disturbed Areas Act spread throughout the installation, obscured out yet visible to represent its vagueness in public knowledge.

Flashing blobs of light in white, red, and purple show the sounds coming out of religious institutions by way of Azan, Kirtan, and Jain incantations respectively. The blobs at the location of their coincidence represent those areas that are deeply conflicted—something that the legality of the Disturbed Areas Act initiates, and something that gets furthered due to its social reinforcement.

Team: Sonal Mithal, Fahad Zuberi