Creative Writing at The New School

Aditya Goenka came to New York City to pursue a MFA in fiction from The New School, on a sabbatical from his job as a police officer in Meghalaya, in northeast India, where he has worked since 2008. Goenka’s family accompanied him, and he and his wife enrolled their children in PS 165 on 110th street inHarlem. One day his daughter, who is in first grade, came home from school traumatized. She had been stuck in the restroom during a lockdown drill. When Goenka asked her what the exercise was for, she told him it was how students were meant to respond if there was a shooter in the school.

Goenka’s daughter’s story took him back to his experiences as the commanding officer of a counterinsurgency special unit. He has been in shootings up close. There have been casualties in his unit during operations, and as district chief of police he has supervised investigations into violent crimes involving the death of civilians. That his six-year-old daughter should have to deal with such things, however, was shocking to him.

Guns find a pride of place in the global patriarchal culture. They've become symbols divorced from their effects, normalizing extreme violence in our everyday lives. The proliferation of arms across the globe gives any individual anywhere extraordinary potential to harm both themselves and others.

AFTER EFFECTS is the artist's attempt to take the onlooker into an immersive space where they can witness the effects and stand testimony to this violence. Furniture from children’s schools has been shot using a variety of weapons, from pistols to shotguns to automatic weapons.

AFTER EFFECTS engages the senses by using the smells typical of an art class in school. There is a shelf with rolled scrolls of poems and statistics. At the end of the installation, there is a recreation of an active lock-down. The onlooker is invited to fold his arms over his head and look at the display with earphones.  

AFTER EFFECTS is a part of Goenka’s creative thesis, under his advisor Dale Peck and John Reed, it was supported by Latief Dickerson of NJ Firearms Academy.

AFTER EFFECTS is located on the third floor of the sky bridge in Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, at 66 W. 12th Street. It is open for viewing from the March 28th till April 5th. Goenka is available at adityagoenka61rr@gmail.com.

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