FIVE YEAR PLAN
A Lecture by Aaron Sinift
[From the Boston Athenaeum’s website
The Five Year Plan
As a response to his desire to make a work of art, unique in character and materiality, Aaron Sinift created the Five-Year Plan project. 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, a cloth with deep resonance in India.
Sinift commissioned 1.4 kilometers, almost a mile, of khadi from the Manav Seva Sannidhi Ashram in Modinagar, which employs 700 spinners, the majority of whom are women over the age of 55. The ashram also employs 45 weavers, and 35 helpers. Most of these workers are Dalit Muslim or low-caste Hindu, and are the sole providers for their families.
The ashrams who created this book made it entirely from khadi cloth featuring screen- and block-printed artworks by 24 artists from 8 countries. He commissioned well-known artists like Francesco Clemente, Yoko Ono, and Chris Martin to contribute one page each. Spinning and weaving the khadi for the Five-Year Plan created more than 2,400 days of work for the ashram and kept 100 families employed for a month.
Aaron Sinift attended the University of Iowa and Boston University. Sinift works part time at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Katzen Arts Center at American University, which he finds as fulfilling as his work with the ashrams. His Five-Year Plan project is in the BA’s collection and a book created with subscription funds. Sinift was raised in Iowa and now lives in New York City.
Aaron Sinift’s Five Year Plan is screen and block printed, woven, and sewn in India on a homespun cotton called khadi. You can schedule an appointment to view this rare book in the Vershbow Special Collections Reading Room.