On February 18, 2017, GP Fellows and Chairman, Ajay Raju, were joined by Marla Shoemaker, Senior Curator of Education at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a conversation inspired by Jitish Kallat’s poignant and immersive installation “Covering Letter.”
“Covering Letter” is an immersive installation and video projection by Mumbai-based artist Jitish Kallat. Projected onto a traversable curtain of cascading fog, this work presents a historical letter by Mahatma Gandhi to Adolf Hitler, written just weeks before the start of World War II. In the spirit of his doctrine of universal friendship, Gandhi begins the letter with the greeting “Dear friend.” Mist diffuses Gandhi’s projected text, echoing the fate of his message, which went unheeded.
With the following prompt as a platform for discussion, Fellows experienced the installation and discussed the role of civility in their daily lives.
In this era of social media, in which modes and methods of communication are more abundant than ever before, what can Gandhi’s letter tell us about how we interact with those who disagree with us? Is the written word now just a means to lob rhetorical grenades, or is there hope for seeking common ground with our opponents with language that appeals to our shared humanity?