Fine Arts Life + Arts

Gandhi ‘Experiments with Truth’ at the Menil


Located in the East Gallery of the Menil Collection, “The Needle Woman” features a woman with her back to the camera in six different cities.  |  Photo by Justin Tijerina/ The Cougar

On the 145th anniversary of Gandhi’s birth on Oct. 2, the Menil Collection debuted “Experiments with Truth: Gandhi and Images of Nonviolence.”

It is the first international project to explore how the concept of “satyagraha” can manifest itself into the visual arts.

The term, coined by Gandhi to describe a form of nonviolent protest, combines the words Sanskrit words “satya” meaning “truth,” and “agraha,” meaning “force.”

The exhibition features around 130 works that span several centuries and continents.

“Experiments with Truth” explores how nonviolent protests across the globe contribute to an international conversation about humanity and the struggle for peace and human rights.

The West Gallery and the East Gallery of the Collection are dedicated to this exhibit.

Outside the West Gallery, directly across the entrance of the exhibit, is a video loop of the man who stood in front of the tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 as a protest.

It’s not officially part of the “Experiments with Truth” exhibit, but this iconic image is an excellent summary and representation of it.

Once one enters the West Gallery, there is already a sense of peace. The first thing that greets you is a picture, dead-center, of Gandhi using his spinning wheel at home.

It humanizes the famous icon and invites the visitor to feel that Gandhi’s ideals resonate within themselves, as if he is connecting with the viewer personally.

For an exhibition named after Mohandas Gandhi, there are few images of him.

Instead, there are more works about the people he influenced and how his ideas of nonviolent protest have materialized throughout history.

Gandhi is a starting point for many of these leaders, and the works throughout the West Gallery have a feeling of a shared beginning between them.

The East Gallery focuses on modern and contemporary forms of nonviolent protests.

The highlight installation of the East Gallery, “The Needle Woman,” is a silent film loop of six different screens that shows a woman with her back to the camera in six different cities and the reactions of the people that pass her by.

However, “Experiments of Truth” shows that no one is ever really alone. The compassion from each of these pieces reverberates through the human spirit and makes one feel as if there are others standing with the viewer.

The exhibit will run through Feb. 1, when it will relocate to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Museum in Geneva, Switzerland.

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