The New World Summit is an artistic and political organization founded by visual artist Jonas Staal in 2012, dedicated to providing “alternative parliaments” hosting organizations that currently find themselves excluded from democracy, for example by means of international designated terrorist lists. Its previous editions took place on May 4 and 5, 2012, in Berlin, Germany, and on December 29, 2012, in Leiden, the Netherlands. Like the two previous editions, the third edition of the New World Summit consisted of a physical parliament structure and an actual summit.
For the third edition of the New World Summit a triangular open air parliament was built on the grounds of Aspinwall House, the main venue of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale and an old colonial complex, combining a villa with warehouses run by an English trading company. Within the triangular construction, 45 large-scale hand-painted panels depicting flags of banned organizations were organized by color. Half of them depicted flags of banned organizations in India, the other half organizations from abroad, thus placing India’s policies of political exclusion in an international context in which occupation plays a central role.
The structure was inaugurated on December 14, 2012. Two weeks later, on December 28, the parliament of the New World Summit was raided by the special branch of the Kochi City Police, with approval of the home department and state intelligence. The panels they thought objectionable were painted over by staff of the Kochi Biennale Foundation with black and grey paints and the wall text announcing the planned summit was removed. On January 9, 2013, this painterly gesture of the special intelligence was supplemented with a charge against three members of the New World Summit, among which its founder, under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act Section 10 (4). This is the very same act that is used to ban the organizations that the New World Summit aimed to host. From this point onward the Kochi-Muziris Biennale team, due to the presence on its board of senior government advisors, proved unable to defend the summit which they had commissioned.
As a residue of the performative intervention of the authorities, the installation remained open to the public until the end of the Biennale.
In India there seem to be profound ties between so-called terrorism and the colonial legacy: many of the banned organizations in India are the inheritors of movements that fought for the right to self-determination against British rule. Beyond this unifying feature, the banned organizations cover a wide range of orientations, including sectarian movements of Sikhs, Muslims, Baptist-Christians and Hindus, the political movement of the Maoist Naxalites, and the territorial struggles of indigenous people of Tripura, Manipur, Assam, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. The third edition of the New World Summit intended to explore a “history according to the resistance,” in order to come to new understandings of the relationships between colonialism, so-called terrorism and democracy. Unfortunately the circumstances did not allow it.
The New World Summit in Kochi was made possible in part by:
Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Kochi IN
Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, New Delhi IN
Mondriaan Fund, Amsterdam NL
The Farook Foundation, Dubai UAE