The ‘Finding Hope’ residency examined the capacity of the human heart to hope. Four artists, Jimmy Chishi, Moumita Ghosh, Mohit Kashyap, and Ranjeet Singh, from different backgrounds-Nagaland, Jamshedpur, Delhi, and Jharkand; Benares Hindu University, Jamia Islamia, and Santiniketan-spent four weeks together in an artist residency run by the Art for Change Foundation on the topic of ‘hope.’ What is hope, where does it come from, what does it point to? These were the questions the artists explored while working in community.
As part of the residency the artists visited Sewa Ashram, a home for the destitute on the outskirts of Delhi, where they talked to destitute men about their ideas of hope. Two men, both with broken backs told their stories: One, after 12 years of being bed-ridden still believing he will someday walk. The other, although having a chance to regain movement through surgery, having been so betrayed and abandoned by his friends, that he had lost all hope in friendship—a broken back and a broken heart.
The result of that visit, and the formal and informal discussions that followed over the course of the residency produced a range of expression of hope, presented in an exhibition at Reflection Art Gallery in July 2011.
Mohit’s hope in a world without violence or corruption, with tiny figures representing civil society stuffing the barrel of a giant revolver full of rose petals. Jimmy’s expression of warriors laying down weapons and picking up newspapers, hope found in communication, poetry, love, or transforming a totem pole, based on the Naga practice of headhunting, into a bench that both serves and speaks of humility and dependence as the essence of hope and brotherhood. Ranjeet and his hyper-realistic rendering of a newspaper boy transformed into the mythological Hanuman, communicating hope in a world that not only does not exploit, but empowers its most vulnerable. And Moumita’s depiction of that capacity of the human spirit to hope, personified in a little girl holding a kite, the human spirit growing like so many hands, the hope that grows and nourishes when two persons choose to share life together.
Hope is to be found. Smoldering deep within the human spirit, even its loss acknowledging an ideal, bringing with it an assumption and expectation that the world be a certain way, pointing to a way that things should be.