“Imagining Peace” a five-day event comprising a collection of artists from different schools of thoughts. 40 Sri Lankan along with ten international artists who will be working around this challenging act of “imagining” the highly evasive concept of “peace”.
Park Street Mews, in central Colombo, 6 impressive large warehouses comprising over 13,000 sq ft .
Six large warehouses converted into six distinctive Biennale Pavilions each managed by a strong curator showcasing a different artist collective. Many artists working collaboratively. CAB is not only about showcasing Sri Lankan art it is a project with a vision. This initiative wishes to show that despite the fact that Sri Lanka has been a politically, ethnically polarized society, artists still can and will continue to work together in pursuit of harmony, a sign of peace in itself.
Six curators working with the artists to create the Imagination of Peace within the space. The pavilions themselves being large and spacious giving ample room for almost limitless creativity to showcase this manifestation of imaginative, surprising, thought provoking and interactive contemporary art, enhanced by performance artists around the installation pieces.
Theertha Pavilion – Curated by Jagath Weerasinghe
Theertha is an autonomous, artist-led non-profit initiative based in Colombo. It was established in 2000 to facilitate the local community of artists in innovation, and experimentation. The core objective of Theertha International Artists Collective is to explore the possibilities of exchanging ideas and knowledge across ethnic, regional and artistic borders, in the context of contemporary critical art practice in Sri Lanka. Jagath is co-founer of CAB.
‘The Curtain’ – Theertha presented a collaborative work by 21 artists. A curtain: a conceptual potential to present itself as a marker of boundaries giving rise to notions of insides and outsides/inclusions and exclusions. A curtain is a presence with authoritative powers and therefore a curtain can, merely by its presence, induce transgression and subversion.
Three Artists – Curated by Annoushka Hempel
Annoushka Hempel has supported Sri Lankan artists since 2004 with her work in facilitating gallery space for local artists. As co-founder of CAB, Annoushka is curating three strong and individual artists who work with universal consciousness and unity.
Anoma Wijewardene: Sri Lanka
‘Phoenix’: “We are at a historic turning point as a nation; and as individuals we must strive to find new ways to forgive, reconcile and heal, to reach the deep and lasting unity, which may lead us to a sustained peace.
The installations explore the perennial themes of isolation, fear, division, conflict and the struggles of the individual – which lead us time and again into war. The progression towards reconciliation and the lasting peace that we seek requires a letting go, a giving up, a change of heart.”
Anup Vega: Sri Lanka
‘Universal Shrine’: “From stone-age to space endless struggle to be in peace, we seek and search it from outside. Hence the evolution of the human consciousness is incomplete. Until we realize and experience the peace within, already that we are born with, to be in harmony with the universe. The secret and the message is always lying contained completely just focussing on basic elements we are born to experience the magic across the universe with gratitude and surrender.”
Ujwala Prahbu: India
‘Rise Above the Past’: “The lotus flower amongst other things symbolizes peace. It is a beautiful representation of the indomitable and pure human spirit that has the ability to rise above the mud to bloom into its pristine beauty. The prospect of peace, unknown beyond past darkness is just as thrilling.”
VAFA Pavilion – Curated by Chandraguptha Thenuwara
All the members represent and are affiliated with Vibhavi Academy of Fine Art (VAFA), and work together for a common goal, all working with social consciousness. VAFA offers higher art educational opportunity to students who are unable to access, or have been marginalized by the State art institutions or educational system. Anyone can join VAFA to learn visual arts forms. No certificates are needed to enrol.
‘Wall’: Chandraguptha Thenuwara, Sajeewani Hewawitharana, Kusal Gunaserara, Anusha Gajaweera & Chammika Jayawardana: Sri Lanka
Five artists contribute to make this wall adding individual interpretations and responses to the context. In Sri Lanka high-rise walls are dominant feature. Walls also serve as a support for the public expressions, written words, pasted posters and so on. Due to the War various walls rose within the society. Among those walls there are Media walls, ideological walls, misunderstanding walls, memorial walls, protective walls, prison walls, hiding walls, and more.
Chandrasevana Arts Centre – VAFA Guest Curator, Neil Butler
Director of the Chandrasevana Arts Centre in Dodanduwa. Chandrasevana runs an international residency scheme whereby Western artists in all art forms are invited to submit proposals to work in residency at Chandrasevana to create a piece of work that is enhanced by being made in Sri Lanka. The initiative has produced a range of exhibitions, theatre shows and events.
‘Where is the art ? – this is not a chair’: With a nod to Duchamp, Beuys and the Situationalists, Butlers’ performance presentation discusses our shared reality, carpentry and the times of our lives. He draws upon his experience as an artist, director and producer in his search for art.
‘Observe’ to place a group of virtual Scottish people, whose only remit when filming themselves is to act as attendants in an exhibition, in the new and developing situation in the heart of Sri Lanka where they watch with mixed emotions. “Me” Self-portraits of and by the children and young people of Chandrasevana Creation Centre, Dodanduwa.
‘Finest Blend’: 30 Years of Performance & Art across Europe, North America and South Asia, Mr Smith spills the Beans. Using the very simple and iconic image of tea, which is perhaps the foremost image that Europeans have of Sri Lanka.
Saskia Fernando Gallery – Curated by Saskia Fernando
In 2009 the Saskia Fernando Gallery opened, dedicated to representing contemporary Sri Lankan art through consultation and exhibitions. A selected collection seven artists will be featured at CAB 2009.
‘Cora de Lanka, Jagath Ravindra, Muhanned Cader, Prageeth Manohansa, Sanjeewa Kumara & Sujeewa Kumari, Saskia Pintelon. SFG Pavilion shows the diversity that exists in the Sri Lankan contemporary art scene. The space has been divided into three sections. Section One consists of three artists working on separate pieces and the merging factor lies within their mutual, yet individual, representation of the journey towards peace. Section Two located on the outer walls of the pavilion, in the form of two large murals dealing with the spiritual and factual. Section Three will be an outdoor installation by one artist who works with scrap metal, creating a contrast between contemporary concepts and aged form and texture.
Barefoot Gallery – Curated by Nazreen Sansoni
‘Imagining Peace: A Personal Piece’
Druvinka, Alex Stewart & Nelun Harasgama
The Barefoot Gallery space has always encouraged free expression of the personal, regardless of who you are or where you are from, it allows one the prerogative to be yourself. Gay, straight, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, Sinhalese, Tamil, Burgher, Malay, rich or poor, schizophrenic or sane, everyone is welcome and nothing is profane.
Barefoot Gallery emerged at a period in Sri Lankan history that was considered repressive. Some of the best art in Sri Lanka came from that time and we still see vestiges of it today.
The Gallery soon, however, metamorphosed into more than just a venue to exhibit, it became a meeting place, a refuge, a place where people would gather to exchange ideas: converse, debate, argue — where people came for solace, or to listen to Mo’s music. – While all this was going on significant art was always there, in the background or in the forefront depending on what you wanted. Today, this is really, what distinguishes it from others.
Now we are at another less clearly defined period in history which art and dialogue can help us understand. At this time a space within which artists can be themselves and imagine is ever more vital to the discourse of a nation which is only beginning to understand itself. While war can secure borders, art and personal connections can form identity and community.
Thus, the artists represented by the Barefoot Gallery collective at Colombo Art Biennale’s inauguration depict their version of ‘imagining peace’ Alex Stewart’s: Fragments on a Path, Druvinka’s: Beneath, Beyond & Above and Nelun Harsagama’s: ‘Samsara’.
In that sense the Gallery can offer personal pieces of a yet to coalesce whole.
Colombo Artists? Pavilion – Curated by Chaminda Gamage
‘Colombo Artists’ is not an organization or a group of artists, it is an open platform for artists from all over the island to bring their creations to the world. It provides opportunities for all who are involved in a true effort of doing something for the betterment of society, country and the world.
‘It is an Affront on an Artist to impose a Theme’:
Anuradha Henakaarachchi, Chaminda Gamage, K.D. Lakshman, Kingsley Gunetilake, Susil Dixon, T.P.G. Amarajeewa.
Works of several artists are exhibited here in this exhibition. The challenge in this effort is paving the way for those artists to express their ideas in a free environment without disturbing anyone else’s freedom.