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This book is part of the material programming for the overarching 5 Year Plan project, and is the first in a series of three massive ashram-based, collaborative, cloth artists’ book projects by artist/organizer and independent publisher Aaron Sinift. The 5 Year Plan book was followed by the OTHER IMAGININGS in 2016. A third cloth book in the series (as yet untitled) will provide a comprehensive meta-narrative for the entire 5 Year Plan which seeks to collaboratively build sustainable economic networks of cultural production within India and beyond. (Note that the 5 Year Plan and OTHER IMAGININGS books are available as a set for $2,500.)

5 Year Plan is an independent artist project to promote awareness of Gandhian principles of service and self-sufficiency by working with Gandhi Ashrams in India; the project is not for profit, and proceeds were donated to Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and other future 5 Year Plan projects. Twenty-four artists were invited to participate by contributing a page representing their own unique interpretation of the project. The 5 Year Plan was conceived from a desire to produce an artwork inspired by the Gandhi ashram collectives in India. Jhola bags are a common product of ashram collectives and a common signifier of Gandhian principles of non-violence and self-sufficiency. The bags were a recognizable sign of resistance during the independence movement and are considered a badge of the intellectual and poet in contemporary India. The bags are made of hand-spun, hand-loom cotton, produced by village collectives. To do this project in a true Gandhian spirit it could not be for profit, therefore we resolved to give most of any funds raised to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and any remaining funds would go to doing another 5YP benefit project. The 5 Year Plan is a Seva (service) in honor of Mahatma Gandhi. Created in India, Feb. 10–June 20, 2010.

To print the book required 1400 meters of khadi to be woven. One meter of khadi requires 3000 meters of thread to be spun on a charka by hand. One spinner on average can spin 2000 meters of thread in a day. 1400 meters of khadi requires 4,200,000 meters of thread. This required 2100 days of work. To weave the tread into 1400 meters of khadi required 262 days of weaving (8 meters per day/loom) In total simply preparing the khadi for the book created almost 2400 days of work. In other words, about 100 families were kept employed for a month.

The book is accompanied by two jhola bags and a small catalog entitled “5 Year Plan: Literary Companion.”. The Hindi language jhola bags were made by Swarajya Ashram Sarvodya Nagar, in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. The English language jhola bags were commissioned by 5YP from the Manav Seva Samiti, in Khanjarpur, Uttar Pradesh (a total of 320). The “…Companion” includes further descriptions of the projects and pertinent writing by Mahatma Gandhi. (A PDF version of the ‘Companion’ is here.) The “…Companion” was printed at Krishna Printers in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

CLOTH BOOK: screen printed and block printed onto hand-spun, hand-woven, unbleached khadi, a cotton cloth. The khadi was woven April-June 2010 at the Manav Seva Samiti, Khanjarpur (an ashram in Mondinagar, Uttar Pradesh) under the direction of Karan Singh and Mr. Vijay Kumar Handa. The book was printed and bound in Jaipur, Rajasthan at Rudraksha Printers under the direction of Nandita Devraj. The edition was 180 bound copies and 5 unbound copies – 35 artist proofs, 65 signed copies, and 80 unsigned copies.
– Embroidery: 80 front covers were embroidered (35 for APs/ 44 for signed edition/1 for an unsigned copy), machine sewn in the Pink City of Jaipur; 15 back covers were embroidered by Alpana Bawa (signed editions),
– Cover: Artwork by Aaron Sinift; 5 color silkscreen, color separation by hand, (the logo of two trumpeters was lifted from an old lunghi label purchased by A.S in India 93′. It was revealed to the artist that the logo is actually that of Gemini Studios, a film company in Madras active in the 60’s-70’s.)
– Inside Front Cover: artwork/design by Aaron Sinift; 1 color silkscreen, printed onto thinner khadi sewn to the preceding page.

Pg 1 : Orijit Sen; “Time Traveller” 2009; 6 color silkscreen
Pg 2 : Francesco Clemente; “The Four Corners” 1985; 6 color woodblock print, hand color separation
Pg 3 : Pushpa Kumari, “Woman as Earth” 2010; 6 color silkscreen print (commissioned for the book)
Pg 4 : Anonymous Thangka Painting – Bhaktapur, Nepal. Late 20th century; 6 color silkscreen
Pg 5 : Julie Doucet; “i am” 2005; 3 color silkscreen
Pg 6 : Jane Gilmor; “Kama Bunny” 2009; 5 color silkscreen
Pg 7 : Tim Wehrle; “5 Year Plan” 2010; 7 color silkscreen
Pg 8 : Anonymous Gandhi ashram jhola, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, late 20th century; 3 color silkscreen
Pg 9 : Johnny Coyne “Hanuman” 2009; 1 color silkscreen
Pg 10: Anonymous jute bag, West Bengal, early 21st century; 3 color silkscreen. Provided by Prof Andy Rotman of Smith College
Pg 11: Yoko Ono; “IMAGINE PEACE”; 1 color silkscreen
Pg 12: Franck Andre Jamme; “Flowers” 2010; 2 color silkscreen
Pg 13: Chris Martin; “Three Into Four” 2000; 4 color silkscreen
Pg 14: Donald Baechler; “Gandhi’s Watch” 2009; 3 color woodblock print
Pg 15: Mrs. Bina Handa; “Bapuji” 2010; 4 color silkscreen
Pg 16: Anonymous Gandhi ashram jhola, late 20th century, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; 3 color silkscreen
Pg 17: Anonymous jute bag, West Bengal, early 21st century; 3 color silkscreen. Provided by Prof. Andy Rotman of Smith College
Pg 18: Sarnath Banerjee; “Vicco” date unknown; 5 color silkscreen
Pg 19: Melissa Lockwood; “Money Monster” 2006; 2 color silkscreen
Pg 20: Anonymous jute bag, West Bengal, early 21st century, 3 color silkscreen. Provided by Prof. Andy Rotman of Smith College
Pg 21: Aditya Pande; “untitled Gandhi” (mislabeled in the book, no parenthesis) 2010; 2 color silkscreen
Pg 22: James Green; “Transition of the Spirit, Part 2” 2009; 5 color silkscreen
Pg 23: Monisha Raja; “Revelation” 2010; 4 color silkscreen
Pg 24: Erin Stack; “The Frog Prince” (mislabeled as: untitled (3 eye’d frog); 3 color silkscreen
Pg 25: Robyn Beeche and Meagan Haberman; “untitled”
Pg 26: Tamara Gonzales; “Llameantes Ojos (Flaming Eyes) 2001; 5 color silkscreen
Pg 27: Duncan Tonatiuh Smith; “Gandhi in Chiapas” 2010; 5 color silkscreen
Pg 28: Gurpreet Sidhu; “All Creatures Great and Small” 1998; 3 color silkscreen
Pg 29: Marguerite Byrum; “Victory” 2010; 5 color silkscreen
Pg 29 verso: Aaron Sinift; “Thank You” 2010; 2 color silkscreen
Pg 30: Alpana Bawa; “LOVE” 2009; 8 color silkscreen (first 15 copies hand embroidered).

Introduction from the literary companion–
Welcome Reader,
This book is intended to provide background for some of the ideas at play within the 5 Year Plan project. The project first and foremost was born from the desire to make a work of art, unique in character and materiality. The inspiration came from the artworks printed onto the side of sling bags called jholas that are commonly made by Gandhi ashram collectives throughout India. The cloth they are made from, called khadi, is made from hand-spun cotton thread woven on hand-looms. It is a cloth with deep resonance in India. Until recently, everything I knew about Gandhi was learned from the jholas that I use. The artworks on them have a casual unscripted beauty. This art is instructive of Gandhian ideas of non-violent humanity and service to society. I consider these works an authentic form of counter-industrial popular art, worthy of collection and study.

To make a book in appreciation of artwork produced in a Gandhi Ashram environment, one must include the elements of its art form’s inspiration. Khadi was the backbone of Gandhi’s vision, a means of subsistence for the poorest of the poor. The spinning and weaving process also had deep spiritual resonance for Gandhi. The act of weaving can turn the mind to non-violence and compassion. This book of such popular artworks has to contain the medium of weaving to complete its message and is therefore printed onto khadi. Seva (service) is one of the guiding principles of Gandhi-ji’s program of Swadeshi (self-sufficiency). To honor the intentions of the Gandhian artists who have inspired the 5 Year Plan project, it was essential that it be a Seva (service).

5 Year Plan is an artwork that is also social architecture. There is no separation between those serving and those served. It is not charity. Each person involved in this project has contributed their art, work, and intelligence to make the project what it is. Our method is to encourage cooperation between artists and the village producers of khadi cloth and in turn the art lovers and the consumers including the relief workers in the field such as Doctors Without Borders (MSF). All participants have responded with their own form of compassion: the artists and writers who contributed, the volunteers of Gandhi Ashrams who cleared every obstacle, the printers, patrons, and gallery owners, and even the people on the streets. Every single step of the way has been guided by their compassion.

The artists in the 5 Year Plan, all in one way or another, have a sincere affinity to the project. All of them understood the project in their own way. Much of the work is by anonymous artists whose production is for the marketplace, they may not define what they do as art. There is an astonishing range of ideas as to the nature of art, particularly in this poly-cultural context.

The 5 Year Plan project is timely particularly environmentally and economically. The opening of India’s markets to cheap foreign synthetics has had a devastating effect on the village industries which produce khadi and other goods. Ironically, the very plastic bags which have largely replaced the jhola in the home are being declared illegal in many states in India due to the harm they do to the environment. Jhola bags are a sustainable answer: they are practical and beautiful, and they reduce the need for plastic bags. They are also soft to the touch, and a pleasure to use. The irregularities in the threads speak of true hand labor, from the cotton bole to the charka spinning wheel to the loom. Purchasing khadi supports village families. You can learn all this just by using jholas and appreciating them as they are.

Here’s some background on the khadi cloth that the 5 Year Plan is printed on. It was woven by the people of the Manav Seva Samiti Khanjarpur Ashram in Modinagar (UP) India. All the thread for the book was spun by hand and then woven on handlooms. Each meter of khadi requires about 1500 meters of thread. It takes a person about a day and a half to spin 1500 meters of thread. In total, we needed 1400 meters of khadi. This means we needed 2,100,000 meters of thread, requiring 2100 days of spinning. A weaver can do about 8 meters in a day. This means that we provided 175 days of work to the weavers of the ashram. In total, just to make the cloth for the book, we created almost 2300 days of work. The weavers and spinners for their part produce a fabric of real character and beauty.

Mr. Handa of Gandhi Hindustani Sahitya Sabha Ashram in Delhi took me under his wing to make this project happen. He lives in total service to the poor. Mr. Handa would like me to point out that when you purchase khadi you help the poorest villager in the world.

In closing, I must thank the artists, poets, and scholars who contributed work. They humbled me with their generosity. In the Literary Companion are writings by Mahatma Gandhi, that are as relevant now as the day they were written, “5 dreams of Al” (Outlook magazine March 29, 2010).
I would particularly like to thank Prof. Andy Rotman of Smith College for his insights and encouragement and for his contribution of three of the artworks in the 5 Year Plan khadi book. Also my deepest gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Handa who believe in the project and removed every obstacle to facilitate work with the Gandhi Ashram collectives. Thanks also to Gurpreet Sidhu and Orijit Sen of People Tree Collective for sheltering me in their workshop and introducing me to brilliant people and guiding by their examples. Thanks to Nadita Devraj, collaborator and friend, Rudraksha Printers, Jaipur. Thanks also to Raymond Foye, Booklyn Artists Alliance, Hudson (Feature Inc), John Studer, Krista Friebaum and Zoe Turnbull, Shari Cavin (Cavin-Morris Gallery), Ingrid Dinter, Minhazz Majumdar (minhazzma–jumdar.org), Peter Hale (Allen Ginsberg Estate), The People of India, Maria and John Sinift, Steven Warner, Raul Vincent Enriquez, and most especially dearly Marguerite Byrum without whom I am nothing.
—Aaron Sinift, Editor