Christto and Andrew
Christto & Andrew are a collaborative duo of visual artists who currently live and work in Doha, Qatar. Christto Sanz was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico where he received a BA from the Escuela de Artes Plásticas before completing a Master’s in Visual Communication from Elisava, Barcelona Spain. Andrew Weir was born in Johannesburg South Africa; he is currently persuing his MA in Museums Studies and Gallery practices from UCL, Qatar. They have exhibited in the Middle East, the United States, Central America and Europe.
The artists met while studying abroad in Barcelona and they have worked together since 2009. Christto and Andrew have collaboratively produced photography, objects and video that explore social identity, media and the interpretation of history.
Christto & Andrew’s photographic work looks at the pearling history of the Middle East, particularly Qatar, by using models from the Indian sub-continent which relates to the massive influx of migrant labour into the region. Through the recreation of historical events, they touch upon important topics related to the economic, political and social order of the past.
Bandu Manamperi holds a BFA in Sculpture and is a core member of Colombo’s Theertha Artists’ Collective, Bandu was one of the first performance artists in Sri Lanka, creating highly personal art experiences based on the transformation of his own body, but he doesn’t limit himself to any one genre and his art practice also encompasses sculpture, drawing and painting, and installation art. He also lectures and consults widely on a range of topics including contemporary art, museology, and local craft traditions.
Bandu is a leading figure in recent social art projects carried out under the aegis of Theertha, including “Let’s Take a Walk” and “Ape Gama.” He presently lives and works in Bandaragama.
For the Biennale, Bandu is creating a new performance-based video in which he is shown undressing and then ironing his clothes. It represents an act of removing oneself from the past and the erasing of memories. Ironing out the creases gestures towards the creation of a new history and a sanitized identity.
“Fabric of Time” uses saris and cloth of different time periods, worn by women who have undergone diverse experiences in their life journey that narrate a consciousness, a nostalgia and remembrances of the past as an emotional experience.
The threads with which the fabric is woven represent the trajectories that brings the past into the future. How was the fabric woven? Who decided and formed the patterns? What were the deep rooted emotions and events that knitted this history together? Who proudly adorned this fabric in its time and space, are interrogations for contemplation.
The “fabric of existence” is woven with thread of different hues and patterns, chosen by artisans who tell the story of cultures, events, experiences and emotions through frozen moments in time. The fabric itself forms the boundary within which these antiquities are confined and narrated; making our own versions of history through interpretations based on collective memory and real life experiences.
The Fireflies Artist Network emerged from the Women Artists’ Colloquium (WAC) which was started by Theertha as a program for women artists. The Fireflies artists involved in “Fabric of Time” are Lakisha Fernando, Therica Miyanadeniya, Anusha Wijesinghe, Vijayalan Thujiba, Janani Cooray, and Leyla Gonaduwa.
Hailing from Luristan, Iran, and having trained at the University of Art in Esfahan for his BA and the University of Art in Tehran for his MA, Hojat Amani is best known for his fantastical photo montages that juxtapose images of people, angel wings, and more traditional Iranian motifs and designs.
Drawing inspiration from history, the universality of angels as a symbol, and religious pilgrimages, Amani’s aesthetically futuristic interpretation of angels are wrought with vivacious personality, yet also leave room for subtle contemplation and self-reflection on morality and the universal language that symbols, even when embodied by humans, have.
In his Biennale work, Amani uses repetitive calligraphy forms to invite the viewer to see the depth of Iranian mystical art, and create a space of flow and rhythm. He hopes to introduce this mystical art to the west and share an art that is intertwined with the history, literature and wisdom of his culture.
A rising star in the contemporary art scene, Amani recently had a work sell at the Spring Bonham’s Contemporary Photography sale in Dubai. He has had art residencies in London and in Lithuania, has also published many articles and interviews, and lectures on art topics all over the world.
Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodges
Robbie Coleman and Jo Hodge’s current practice explores the human relationship to environment and the complexities of place. Their work is multi-disciplinary and of an ephemeral nature, combining forms such as performance, projected imagery, temporary installation and sound. They often seek to create art by reimagining and reinventing existing processes and cultural iconographies in new contexts.
Their practice is context- and not media-specific, being led by a research-based response to the physical, human and cultural environs. They are interested in developing new strategies for creating work in the public space and in exploring new ways of engaging audiences.
Robbie is a visual artist and designer based in Scotland. He has created and collaborated on local, national and international arts projects in a variety of media including live art, sculpture, installation and film. He has also managed several large-scale arts projects and designed exhibitions for galleries and museums in the UK.
Jo has a background in human ecology, community development and social justice.
She has a diverse multi-disciplinary practice, creating both permanent and temporary public works, site-specific interventions, time based pieces, exhibitions and performance. She has worked with The Gallery of Modern Art, Glasgow, The National Museum of Scotland and The National Portrait Gallery in London.
Based in Glasgow, Kit Mead studied Fine Art at Cumbria Institute of the Arts, Carlisle, graduating in 2010 and has since exhibited nationally and internationally. He was runner-up for the inaugural “Title Art Prize” from the Blank Media Collective, Manchester in 2011, and has participated in a number of group shows since 2006. He has had 8 solo shows, most recently “Allison and Victoria” at the Govanhill Baths, Glasgow, 2013 and has been artist-in-residence at the Sura Medura International Artist Residency Centre, Sri Lanka, 2013.
Mead’s work explores the dynamics of uncertainty and transition created by changes in the representation of environments or objects. In order to articulate the presence of time, he produces experiential site-specific installations along with digital video-based work, creating narratives of compressed information. The remains of phenomena that have been re-shaped by historical interference generate associative dialogues between the monumental and the ephemeral to reveal the effects of change.
“The Other Kwai” examines the lasting disruption caused to an area of the Sri Lankan rainforest used as the set for the 1957 David Lean film “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. Replicating the structure of the original film, a selection of archival material that reveals the building of the bridge together with filmic observations of the present-day bridge location interweaves fact with fiction.
Lindsay Sekulowicz is an artist based between London and Scotland. She completed her Ba (Hons) at the Glasgow School of Art in the department of Environmental Art and attained a postgraduate diploma at the Prince’s Drawing School in London.
In her practice, Sekulowicz focuses on historical collections and biological studies. The consideration for material and form is fundamental to all of the works. Primarily, she works through drawing, painting and sculptural installations, utilising often basic and instinctive techniques, with time, study and looking being important factors in the artistic process.
In the past, Sekulowicz has worked with entomologists from the Museum of Natural History of Florence, Museo “LA SPECOLA,” travelling with them on two expeditions to jungles in Malaysia and Ecuador.
In 2012, she completed a residency at the D’Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum at the University of Dundee, where her research was focused on neuroscientific studies of space and memory.
Most recently, she has been working with botanists from the University of Addis Ababa and Kew Gardens, compiling a series of paintings on Ethiopian medicinal plants.
In January 2014 she will begin a residency at Sura Medura International Artist Residency Centre in Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka.
Mahen Perera trained in Multi-Disciplinary Design at the National Design Centre in Colombo before going on to pursue his BA in Fine Arts from the Lasalle College of the Arts in Singapore in affiliation with the Open University U.K., where he was awarded a first class Honors and was the recipient of the prestigious Winston Oh travel award in 2007 which allowed him to undertake a month-long residency in Prague. His works have been exhibited in Sri Lanka, Singapore and Vietnam.
Mahen works mainly with found objects and material detritus that are often ignored, and seeks to analyze and challenge the conventional language used to talk about issues of identity and representation. The materials that he works with take on the traces of history, time and memory as a result of transformative physical manipulation, and he explores the vestigial spaces that are often left behind. His works are evocative of the concept of absence and sometime even suggestive of archeology in the way that he intimately explores and celebrates the residual.
Mark Vernon is a sound artist and radio producer based in Glasgow. His arts practice encompasses live performance, soundtracks, installations and radio broadcasts—often blurring the boundaries between art, music and broadcasting. His key areas of interest are the human voice, field recording and soundscape composition, musique concrète and the radio phonic combination of these elements in works for broadcast and live performance.
Mark has produced programmes and features internationally for radio stations including WFMU, RADIA, Resonance FM, CKUT, VPRO and the BBC. He has also been instrumental in setting up a number of temporary Restricted Service License (RSL) art radio stations in the UK including Hair Waves, Radio Tuesday and Nowhere Island Radio.
Together with Monica Brown, he runs the “Lights Out Listening Group,” a monthly listening event focused on creative uses of sound and radio that takes place in complete darkness. He also records and performs solo and in a variety of collaborative music.
Mark was selected as UZ arts artist in residence at Sura Medura, Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka in 2013 and is currently approaching the end of a two-year period as digital artist in residence at Forth Valley Royal Hospital where he has developed a series of new audio works for the context of hospital radio.
Pradeep Chandrasiri is a well-known Sri Lankan artist who has exhibited locally and internationally. He is a visiting lecturer on theatre set design and production design at various universities and theatre schools in Colombo. He has designed award-winning theatre sets for the National Theatre Festival of Sri Lanka. He also received the Commonwealth Art and Craft Award for his work in the visual arts in 2003, which allowed him to participate in a visiting artist programme at the University of Wollongong, Australia. He has participated in many local and international artist programmes since 1998, including the second Fukuoka Asian Art Triennial, at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum, Japan in 2002.
Chandrasiri is currently based in Colombo, and belongs to the gorup of artists first identified with “90s Trend,” an Sri Lankan art movement that professed a new ideological position in art production influenced by contemporary art practice and social context. He came to prominence within this discourse during the 1990s. His works are profoundly influenced by autobiographical memories of his experiences in Sri Lanka.
In addition, Chandrasiri is a founding member and executive committee member of the Theertha Artists Collective.
Radhika Hettiarachchi & Shanika Perera
Radhika Hettiarachchi and Shanika Perera have collaborated on a joint project entitled “HERSTORIES” for the exhibition.
Radhika Hettiarachchi obtained a BA (Hons) in Communications and English at York University, Canada and her MS in Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has been involved in the development sector, conflict transformation and alternative methods of peacebuilding in Sri Lanka since 2005. She is the curator of Colomboscope 2014, which shares the CAB theme of “Making History”. She is the curator and creator of the “Herstory Archives” project (herstoryarchive.org).
Shanika Perera holds a degree in graphic design from the Academy of Design in Colombo. Beyond her enthusiastic fondness for cows, cats and chopsticks, she shares a deep passion for the environment. A self-styled environmentalist, her ambition and dream is to one day champion positive change in cultivating a more “green-conscious” society. Till then, she remains a professional graphic designer with a multitude of creative accomplishments ranging from fashion and art to advertising.
The current exhibition on Rosemarie Trockel is part of a series of monographic exhibitions in the Institut’s program that includes Sigmar Polke, Georg Baselitz and Gerhard Richter. This not only illustrates the standing that accrues to the artist’s work within contemporary art. The artistic positions of the elder colleagues also, in a cryptic way, form the programmatic starting point for Rosemarie Trockel’s concepts.
An art scene that has been largely male-dominated, even into the 1980s, spurs Rosemarie Trockel to dissent. She persistently formulates counterpositions in which she confronts the male artist-genius with feminine roles and subject matter. The various groups of works reflect her standpoint within a decidedly feminine artistic realm and are unstinting in their fundamental critique of the prevailing art system. One of her earliest masterpieces, “Malmaschine” from 1990, which is shown in our exhibition, takes to the absurd, in virtuoso style, the commonplace about the complaisant handicrafted-mechanical nature of art created by woman’s hand. With its mechanical production of the painterly Gestus, “Malmaschine” reads well as a parody on the topos of the artist-genius.
Despite her critical stance, Rosemarie Trockel’s works encounter the viewer as lively, highly imaginative conceptual constructs and as vivid and convincing artistic creations. The artist manages to visualise even weighty intellectual cargo in an ironic and humorous way, avoiding dogmatic oppositions or, indeed, polemic. The same strategy is pursued after 1991 in the knitted pictures, which hang on the wall like minimalist sculptures. The artist strips a prop borrowed from the everyday life of women of its traditional function. Like the wool material in the knitted pictures –ideologically burdened as “typically feminine” – electric stove-burners, too, depart from their banal connotations of domesticity or craft.
Rosemarie Trockel does not develop her work in a linear manner, but prefers to take intentionally circuitous artistic paths. With a thoroughly deconstructive method, she places every answer, once found, again in question, or even takes the answer back. The uninitiated observer might therefore find her work heterogeneous and, at first, not easily accessible. And yet a finely woven web of associations is spun around each group of works in which the motifs, once formulated, undergo manifold variations in different media over the years and so decipher themselves.
In her works, traditional and new visual media make astonishing connections for the viewer again and again. This is particularly evident in the ink, charcoal, pencil, collaged or computer drawings, which have an important place in the oeuvre. Drawings accompany each new phase of work both as trial runs and as sketches noting observations and ideas but, as is especially apparent in the current large format works, they also form an independent body of work. Along with the videos, our exhibition therefore puts special emphasis on this medium.
Jesper Nordahl was born in Sweden where he is also currently based.
The documentary-tinted video works by Jesper Nordahl have for some time been scrutinising the cause and effect of global developments, partly as expressed by the individual, and partly as a manifestation of the societal situation as a whole. Nordahl’s works suggest that the personally rendered narrative is inextricably interwoven with the complex web that constitutes our common history and our present political circumstances. The artist’s endeavour in time turns into series of interconnected works, not repetitive but deepening the field of investigation, thus becoming more of a train of thoughts elaborating on specific topics.
Nordahls’ work has been
shown internationally, including exhibitions at Shedhalle Zurich, Modern Museum Stockholm, Index Stockholm, Artists Space New York, Grazer Kunstverein Graz, Kunstlerhaus Bethanien Berlin, Colombo Art Biennale 2012 and Dolores at EDB Projects Amsterdam.
Nordahl graduated from the
Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm 2000 and he took part in The Whitney ISP in New York
He has lived in Sri Lanka in 1982-84 when his father was working with SIDA and Skanska to build the Kotmale Dam. He has since returned several times to Sri Lanka, twice for residencies at the Theertha International Artists Collective. He also had residencies at Iaspis studio in Stockholm and Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin.
T. V. Santhosh
Born in Kerala, T.V. Santhosh obtained his graduate degree in painting from Santiniketan and Master’s Degree in Sculpture from Maharaja Sayajirao University, Vadodara. Santhosh’s works have been shown widely in international museums and biennales, including at Das Kunstmuseum, Austria, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Singapore Art Museum, the Saatchi Gallery in London, and the Royal Academy of Arts, London among many others.
His select solo shows include ‘The Land’, Nature Morte, Berlin 2011, ‘Burning Flags’, Aicon Gallery, London 2010, ‘Blood and Spit’, Jackshainman Gallery 2009, ‘Living with a Wound’, Grosvenor Vadehra, London 2009, ‘A Room to Pray’ at Avanthay Contemporary, Zurich 2008, ‘Countdown’, Nature Morte, Delhi 2008 in collaboration with The Guild, Mumbai; ‘Countdown’, The Guild, Mumbai 2008
Santhosh’s “Effigies of Turbulent Yesterdays” reconceptualizes the equestrian statue in order to critique the role that art has traditionally played in valorizing violence and propagating a triumphalist interpretation of history. In the words of critic Sathyanand Mohan, the work becomes “an anti-monument that lies bare the disavowed histories of violence that sustain it, and by extension all such iconographies of power.”
Vimukthi Jayasundara is an award-winning Sri Lankan director known for his surreal films that erase the borders between fiction and documentary, between cinema and visual art. After finishing his documentary the land of silence (2002) about the victims of civil war, he made his directorial debut with the forsaken land (2005), which won the Camera d’Or for best first feature at Cannes and inspired Gilles Jacob, the festival’s president, to state that the great hope for the renovation of contemporary cinema was born. Jayasundra followed this with Between two worlds (2009), which competed at the Venice Film Festival, and has been shown at over 100 festivals internationally. His third feature mushrooms (2011) was filmed in India and went on to be selected for Directors’ Fortnight at Cannes. In 2012 he was invited to be one of three international directors to produce a film for the Jeonju Digital Project 2012, for which he made light in yellow breathing space; it was selected for the Locarno Film Festival.
Anoli Perera studied political science, economics and sociology before turning to visual art. Largely self-taught, she trained in stone carving in the US.
Anoli’s “Memory Keeper” engages with how we relate to our personal histories by exploring how the artist retains and communicates memories of her family as well as histories that have been forgotten, whether deliberately or through the passage of time.
Hailed in Sri Lanka as a pioneer in introducing art that is informed by feminism and craft art practices, her work engages critically with women’s issues, history, myth and identity, colonialism and post colonial anxieties . Her writings on contemporary Sri Lankan art have appeared in many publications, including Art Asia Pacific, South Asia Journal for Culture, Frontline, Asian Art Archive, and art catalogs and books on Sri Lankan artists.
Anoli Perera is a co-founder and a director of the Theertha International Artists Collective, a progressive art initiative based in Colombo which maintains the experimental art space Red Dot Gallery. She is on the Artistic Advisory Committee of the Colombo Art Biennale and a peer panel member of the Arts Network Asia (Singapore). She currently lives and works in New Delhi, India.
Banoo Batliboi is a self-taught paper artist who creates “book art” with old, abandoned books. By shifting the focus from their conventional form as a vehicle for narrative ideas—as a primary medium for the communication and creation of history—to the tactile and visual qualities of the book, she imagines an alternative life for each volume.
Banoo makes paper behave in surprising ways. The pages of an old atlas restructure themselves into a new topography. Metallic paper creates patterns with an unusual look and feel. She further abstracts her book sculptures through her art photographs allowing the viewer to see paper in new and astonishing ways, and engages in questions of narrative authority—who has the authority to write our histories and whose history are we being taught?
The Plush Series of book sculptures are special because they have been fashioned from vintage books that exemplify the best of the traditional bookbinder’s craft. These books have been reconfigured by the artist through a process of precision folding to transform them into something new.
Born in Sri Lanka, Gihan Karunaratne grew up in the UK from the age of ten, where he became a RIBA-chartered architect. He has been an academic lecturer in both Britain and Sri Lanka and has exhibited at the Rotterdam Architecture Biennale in 2009 and four times at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. In 1999, Gihan won The Bovis and Architect Journal award for architecture and was made a Fellow of Royal Society of Arts for Architecture, Design and Education in 2012.
Karunaratne’s art investigates how we analyze our world through mapping, both of the actual world and of alternative realities, by drawing on a combination of observation, investigation and high-tech data analysis which identify movement, socio-economic patterns, and local political conditions. The maps are a compilation of hidden data not bound to a fixed time, scale or grid, but which evoke emotional exploration into the ethereal world.
For the Colombo Art Biennale 2014, he is exhibiting a series of maps, diagrams and a short animated film mapping, portraying the protesters outside St Paul’s cathedral, throwing light on police kettling techniques, questioning the use of social media, smartphone tracking techniques and the banality of infrastructure maps.
‘The Patient’ & ‘The Cause of Illness’ are concertina painted books. Circles like a microscopic view of various microorganisms both presenting a situation where one is engaging in self-discovery of oneself to be ill or to be ‘not ill’ – a process.
‘The Black Egg Boxes’ Forever caught in a flux, continuous change, fluidity of meaning by confronting one with the question – which is black, the eggs or the boxes? Exterior versus interior. The interior is an assumption which may or may not be true.
Jagath studied Painting at the Institute of Aesthetic Studies, University of Kelaniya (1977-1981) and at the American University in Washington DC (1988-1991). He currently teaches History and Theory of Archaeology, Art History and Heritage Management at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, Colombo. Some of his most significant exhibitions have been ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Yanthra Gala Round Pilgrimage’ which introduced possibilities of artistic expressions reflective of broad political and social implications within a deep personal context. Jagath is also the Founding Member and Chairman of Theertha International Artists Collective in Sri Lanka.
Khalifa Al Obaidly
Qatari photographer Khalifa Al Obaidly originally studied marine biology at the University of Qatar, and underwater photography was one of his earliest formative experiences with the medium.
Since 2002 Al Obaidly has concentrated on Qatari tradition and culture through the twin themes of Desert and Sea, seeking to convey through his photography the importance of the traditional wooden boats, called dhows, as reflections of Qatari history and bearers of the spirits of Qatari culture and the soul of the pearl divers.
In addition to his own photography work, Al Obaidly has worked at a number of science and art museums, including the Aquarium at the Qatar National Museum, serving as an assistant director at the Islamic Art Museum, and the Qatari National Council for Culture, Art and Heritage. Most recently, he has been working on a project to construct a museum of photography and build a collection of work.
Al Obaidly is also involved with many Qatari heritage programmes and initiatives, as well as leading the “Found Objects Project” (Echo Memory or Sadda AL Thekraiat) which seeks to create art from found objects for Heart of Doha Project.
Lakisha Fernando works on the theme of “intimacy” in relation to women’s experiences: examining, questioning and exploring the meanings and anxieties hidden in this seemingly innocent and affectionate word. Her works incorporate different elements such as written texts, objects, photographs and painted surfaces together giving a textured plane which transcends the traditional two-dimensional aspect of painting. In her installation projects, she has worked with natural and recycled materials, and her preferred art media are items and materials used in the decorative artists traditionally associated with women, such as needlework, embroidery and lace making.
In addition to her own art, she also draws on her background in psychology in order to work as an art teacher for individuals with special needs and as a counselor. She is a member of the Theertha International Artists Collective, a progressive artist-led art organization which organises the Theertha international art workshops as well as many other art events in Sri Lanka. She is the general coordinator and a founding member of International Fireflies Artists network, a group that formed in 2006 from the Theertha International Artists Collective.
Liz Fernando is a graduate from the prestigious LCC BA Photography programme at the University of Arts, London. Fernando’s work mostly finds its roots in conceptual research. Her own biography, research into the role of photography in South Asia and the resulting work highlights the different meanings that photography, identity, history and the notion of memory occupy within non-western cultures.
Her work has been exhibited at the Tate Modern in London and is showcased by Photoworks Brighton. Her award-winning work “Trincomalee – My father’s stories and the lost photographs” has recently been acquired by the World Bank in Washington D.C for its permanent collection and is currently on an international travelling exhibition. She lives and works in Berlin and Colombo.
Manori Jayasinghe is a jewelry designer by profession but engages in other forms of artistic expression with a wide range of media including oil, watercolor, print media, and multi-media installations using found objects such as safety pins, roots, plastic pieces, and buttons. Thus Jayasinghe attempts to transform the mere functionality of jewelry as an object of fashion and adornment into a different kind of work, where jewelry transcends into an art form.
Her art training was through the Vibhavi Fine Arts Academy, a private art school with a mission to give opportunities for part-time artists to develop their skills. Jayasinghe’s art usually reflects her experience of social issues and tries to give voice to these issues and make the beholder ponder and think. She is especially sensitive to the space of women in a male dominant culture and tries to highlights these aspects, sometimes in a humorous way.
Apart from her individual development as an artist, she is engaged in community work among a group of disadvantaged children. Some of the activities I have engaged in are free art and other workshops for children to develop their skills, and counseling for children and women living with drug addicted family members.
Nina Mangalanayagam is a Swedish visual artist based in London. She has a Danish mother and Tamil father, and uses her personal experience and family background to explore the fluidity and unfixed nature of identities, how the interplay of influence among identity, family, society, and environments. Through her practice she explores the experience of being “in-between” cultures and how she is perceived because of her mixed background. In the past, she has mostly examined these topics through photography, but in her recent work she is increasingly using the moving image in her practice.
Nina has a Masters in Photography from the Royal College of Art in London, and is currently working on a Ph.D. at the University of Westminster. She recently completed a video commission for Radar, Loughborough University, as part of their Home/Land series, which was exhibited in Cape Town this year. Other recent exhibitions include Entanglement at Rivington Place, International Departure – Gate 10 at Fondazione Fotografia and Surfacing at European Commission House. She received the Jerwood Photography Award and the Photoworks graduate Award in 2005 and was short-listed for ArtsAdmin’s Decibel Visual Artist Award in 2006.
Cartography is an act of history-making. History is created, re-created, interpreted, re-interpreted, narrated and counter-narrated by the act of mapping. Pala Pothupitiye’s work features juxtaposing, overlapping and morphing portraits and maps that refer back to the past while evoking the present production of the history today.
Coming from a background of traditional craft artists and ritual specialists, he incorporates and reinterprets the material and philosophical content of traditional art in his work. Pothupitye received his art education at the Visual and Performance Art University at Colombo, graduating with a BFA in sculpture.
A subtly political artist, Pothupitiye confronts compelling political issues raised by the war in Sri Lanka and extends his inquiry questions of caste, the distinction between art and craft, tradition and modernity, as well as generating a critique of Euro-centrism.
Pothupitiye was named Best Artist of the Year and received First Place in Sculpture at the State Art Festival in Sri Lanka in 2003. In 2005 he was also selected to participate in the 3rd Fukuoka Triennial at the Fukuoka Asian Art Museum in Japan, and in 2010 received the jury awarded 1st Prize in the Sovereign Art Asian Prize, Hong Kong.
Prajjwal Choudhury graduated with a BVA in Painting from the Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata in 2003 and went on to complete his MVA in Printmaking from MSU Baroda in 2006. He taught there as a Visiting Lecturer with the Faculty of Fine Arts from 2011-2012.
Choudhury’s honors and achievements include the HK Kejriwal Young Artist Award, 2012; Seoksu Art Project – Asia Arts Link (AAL), organized by SAP, 2011; ‘Emerging Asian Artist Award’, Art Gwangju, South Korea, 2010; and ‘Asia Pacific Artists Fellowship’ with a six-month residency at the National Art Studio, Goyang, National Museum of South Korea, 2010.
The artist’s first solo exhibition took place at Project88, Mumbai, 2008. Choudhury lives and works in Vadodara, Gujarat, India.
Rakhi Peswani has degrees in ceramic sculpture and painting from M.S. University in Baroda. She has taught at the Peswani received the Inlaks Scholarship for the UNIDEE in residence at Cittadellarte, Fondazione Pistoletto in 2006. She has previously taught at the S. N. School of Arts and Communication at Hyderabad Central University and is currently on the faculty at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore.
Peswani’s museum exhibitions include Fruits of Labor (a Monument to Exhaustion) at Hangzhou Triennial of Fibre Arts Zehjiang Art Museum Hangzhou in 2013; Generation in Transition: New Art from India in 2011 at Zachęta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland and Contemporary Art Centre, Lithuania; Bring Me A Lion: An Exhibition of Contemporary Indian Art, The Hunt Gallery, St. Louis, Missouri in 2010; and Potters in Peril 2001 at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Mumbai.
Rakhi was an artist in residence in 2011 in The Hague, where she showed Bodies/Subterrain (Eurydice & Sita) at Vrije Academie. Her recent solo exhibitions include Anatomy of Silence 2013 at The Guild, Mumbai; Matters Under the Skin 2011, Art HK – Asia One, Hong Kong, presented by The Guild, Mumbai; Intertwinings, Vadehra Art Gallery, New Delhi and Sonnet for Silent Machines at Jehangir Nicholson Gallery and The Guild, Mumbai.
Sachini and Natalie
Sachini Perera is a freelance photographer and writer from Sri Lanka who engages in social activism, particularly for women’s rights. She was originally came to photography in the context of journalism, and then began photographing live performances in the burgeoning local alternative music scene. She has since expanded her photography repertoire to include travel photography, both in Sri Lanka and around the world, and portraiture. In her spare time, Sachini moonlights as a classical musician, playing the clarinet for the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka and singing.
Natalie Soysa is a freelance photographer, writer and artist facilitator currently heading the arts programme at the British Council in Colombo. After leaving a career in advertising, she commenced photographing and writing about the emerging post-war explosion of arts and culture in the country, a passion that has continued into a column in The Nation called ‘The Soul Gallery,” in which she highlights artists and projects around the country, introducing their ideas and work to the general public.
In 2013, Sachini and Natalie were awarded a joint grant by Groundviews for a photography initiative to look back at the experience of Sri Lankan women over the past 30 years, since the commencement of both the nation’s feminist movement and the country’s ethnic crisis in 1983.
In his mixed-media work “Spine,” Sunil Sigdel works with used workers’ gloves to examine the consequences of a vicious civil war in Nepal that has resulted in the migration of around 1200 young people daily to work in foreign countries, particularly in the Middle East. Sigdel believes that the medium is the message in this work. The result is an ambiguous object with a life of its own, each gloves remind evoking a labourer.
Sunil Sigdel has a degree in Painting from the Fine Art College, Kathmandu. The subject matters in his works involve socio-political crisis of his country as well as the globe. Though his background is painting, his work also includes installation, performance, video work & photography.
Sunil has had many solo group exhibitions in South Asia, East Asia and Europe, including group exhibitions at the Kathmandu International Art Festival in 2009 and 2012, the ROSL Annual Scholars Exhibition, London in 2012, the Sovereign Asian Art Prize show in Hong Kong and South Korea in 2013, and “Off the Beaten Path” South Asian exhibition (Britto), Bangladesh in 2008.
He received the ROSL Annual scholarship Award in 2011, and the Creative Young Artist Award, 2007 from the Creative Artist Group, Pokhara, Nepal in 2007.
Renowned for his site-specific work using sound to subtly alter our experience of architecture, public space and performance, Thor McIntyre-Burnie has been working for over 15 years as both an artist and a sound designer.
Whilst sound is a major tool, his artwork is usually physical and mixed media—it is what arises out of the interplay between invisible sound and tangible materials that really fascinates him. He creates environments to walk within, where our movements and navigations effect how we perceive the work, and these in turn effect our relationship with a place and a medium.
An early instigator of sound as a tool for site-specific public art, Thor has been “quietly” pushing the boundaries of audio arts in the tree’s, streets, parks, bandstands, lighthouses and pockets of our towns and cities ever since.
Thor is currently the creative director of two arts organizations, the Aswarm and Stream Arts, both located in the UK. He lectures on sound design and performance at a number of schools in the UK and Germany.
Tristan Al-Haddad is a working designer and visual artist in addition to holding the position of assistant professor in the School of Architecture at The Georgia Institute of Technology. Al-Haddad holds a Master of Architecture degree from Georgia Tech, also having studied at the University of Paris – La Villette and at the Daniels Center for Building Technology and Urban Design in Genoa, Italy. His work has been exhibited in venues including the Pompidou Center, The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, The Boston Center for the Arts, The International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and The AIA’s Center for Architecture in New York City as well as being published in print sources including the New York Times, Dwell, Metropolis, Art Papers and The Atlanta Journal Constitution. Al-Haddad was one of seven recipients of the ARTADIA Artist Award in 2009 in addition to being a Fulbright Scholar at the Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria in Valparaiso, Chile the same year. In 2012 Al-Haddad received the Emerging Voices Award from the Young Architects Forum of the Atlanta chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Al-Haddad is also the co-author of two patent-pending solar photovoltaic racking systems.
Al-Haddad’s practice investigates the relationship between material and immaterial worlds, or rather the relationship between spaces of matter and spaces of thought. The work is used as a medium through which to conduct experiments of the body’s existence in space and the virtual [mental] perception created by this occupation. This interest in virtuality is rooted not in technologically driven synthetic spaces, but rather in the history of thought and mental experience. Another primary thesis in the work is that of understanding materiality as fundamental to the design and construction of any object or space in the world of matter. Part of the conceptualization of all of the work starts with an understanding of materiality and the process of formation and translation of the material, in other words not in the process of ‘Being’, but rather in the process of ‘Becoming’. In this construct the world is always understood as being in a state of dynamic flux and seeking adaptation through chance and choice.
Anthony Haughey b. Ireland 1963 is an artist and lecturer. He supervises practice-based PhD’s in the Dublin Institute of Technology. He was Senior Research Fellow at the Interface Centre for Research in Art, Technologies and Design at the University of Ulster Belfast, where he completed a PhD in 2009. His art practice works from the premise of a principal situatedness of art in place and community and its connectedness through dialogic exchange. He has collaborated widely with diverse societal groups and individuals, often blurring the lines between the subject and viewer. Between 2008 and 2012 he produced a series of video installations and art interventions with The Global
Migration Research Network.
His work has been exhibited and collected widely internationally, recent exhibitions in 2013 include, Northern Ireland: 30 years of photography in the MAC and Belfast Exposed, New Irish Landscapes in the Three Shadows Gallery, Beijing, Homelands,a major British Council exhibition, Citizen in Highlanes Gallery, Drogheda and MCAC,Portadown. Strike! With Jeremy Deller, and Labour and Lockout at LCGA. He recently completed a commission for the Aftermath project, which is currently touring Ireland. His work has been published in numerous publications and art journals. Monographs include The Edge of Europe (1996), Disputed Territory (2006) and an artist’s book State (2011). His work is represented in many international public and private collections and he is an editorial advisor for the Routledge journal, Photographies. He was recently awarded the Arts and Cultural Diversity Bursary 2013 organised by Create, the national development agency for collaborative arts in social and community contexts.
According to Chinthaka Thenuwara, our lives are in constant motion transforming themselves into history. Just as we are becoming familiar with the status quo, we move to another situation. Making history becomes a constant varying cycle, a natural sequence of acts, results, and consequences. The changes that occur through the process of making history are like looking through a kaleidoscope, in that each individual sees the same elements, but reassembles them into a different enticing new pattern. As an avid cyclist, Chinthaka experiences his daily cycling routes as method for assembling a kaleidoscopic vision of how history is made in which historical monuments, buildings, landscape and roads change form, identity, functionality or completely disappear through temporal, social, political and cultural changes.
As a professional photographer, Chinthaka has a licentiate membership in the Institute of Sri Lankan Photography, as well as a Higher National Diploma in photography from the Photographic Art Society, Sri Lanka affiliate to FIAP, and a Higher National Diploma in Interior design from the AOD Sri Lanka. He is a founding member of the Collective of Contemporary Artists (CoCA). He has exhibited widely in Sri Lanka, where he his work has won many awards, as well as in other parts of Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Zweintopf was founded by Eva Pichler, with a background in art history and exhibition design, and former architect Gerhard Pichler as an artist duo in 2006 in Graz, Austria, and exhibits both in classical exhibition settings and in public spaces. Since teaming up together and moving beyond their original fields, zweintopf has won acclaim in Austria and beyond for playful and humorous installations that convey sly social commentary on modern European life.
Alongside site-specific installations, objects and videos, their work develops ideas and realises them as art in public spaces or in the form of unannounced interventions in the public sphere. Seeking to transcend specific traditional fields of study (art, art history, architecture and philosophy), the Pichlers engage with everyday phenomena and trivial material derived from mass-produced “found” objects, which form the foundations of the artistic endeavours, adaptation and reinterpretation undertaken by Zweintopf in their work.
Having grown up moving between Leeds and rural Oxfordshire, Hannah Brackston spent a year working with community educational/development projects in Southern India before studying environmental art at the Glasgow School of Art. After finishing her degree in 2011, she received the David Harding Public Art prize and exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy “New Contemporaries Show”. Her key works include Desire lines (2011), a permanent sculptural work in the form of a gateway for Bellahouston Park, and Nith scoping (2012), a research-generated project that explored the relationship between people who live along the River Nith and the river, for the public art program Inbetween:Dumfries. Recently, Hannah completed artist residencies in Cuxhaven Germany, Unit 7 Artists’ Studios Glasgow and a self-directed residency at the Glasgow Sculpture Studios, which were supported by awards from Arts Trust Scotland and The R.S.A. Residencies for Scotland. Hannah is a founding member of the Open Jar Artist Collective and is currently engaged in an on-going collaboration with icecream architecture called The Govan Book of Memories, a community-based project re-imagining the stories of Govan, through the Govan Cross Townscape and Heritage Initiative. Hannah currently works from a studio in Govan, Glasgow.
Janananda Laksiri received his art education at the Vibhavi Academy of Fine Arts (VAFA) as well as from the National Design Centre in Sri Lanka. His academic training has given him a solid grounding in classical art techniques. Since then, however, he has branched out and his experience in electronic media and IT capabilities in many 2- and 3-D graphic software platforms has allowed him to generate breath-taking digital art and sensational multimedia installations.
His work, Mirror Images, an installation of a charred power pole with a flickering streetlamp surrounded by tall parallel mirrors, was considered by many as a major attraction at the Colombo Art Biennale in 2012. His works are highly charged with emotions and take the viewer beyond a vision of personal despair and misery in order to focus on the broader issues of contemporary society.
Kingsley Gunatillake is a painter, an installation artist and a book artist. His formal training includes a BFA from the Fine Art University of Colombo and a diploma in Environmental Education from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in 1994. Gunatillake is currently a visiting lecturer on the faculty of Visual Arts of the University of Visual and Performing Arts in Colombo.
He has had several solo exhibitions in Sri Lanka, the UK, the Philippines, Ireland, Scotland, and India. He has also participated in many group exhibitions and international artist camps both in Sri Lanka and abroad, most recently in France, the UK, Japan, Pakistan, India and at the Seongnam International Art Fair in Korea. Gunatillake has also been the recipient of a number of national awards since 1980 as well as international awards from both Czechoslovakia and Japan.
Gunatillake’s painting, sculpture and installations can be found in many local collections, including the Sri Lankan Presidential Collection of Contemporary Art. He currently works out of his studio in Kandy.
Layla Gonaduwa takes the Biennale theme of Making History in its literal sense and has used her love affair with books and being the owner of a secondhand book exchange as the material and background for “The Silverfish.” This work seeks to transform the Mahavamsa, a Pali epic poem of SriLankan origin, according to procedures meant to evoke the damage done to texts over time by silverfish. The silverfish here represents a disruption and a distortion, symbolically stealing matter and meaning from the book and the site it is held.
The transformations of the silverfish echo the transformations that we all, insofar as we are chroniclers of our own experience, make in attempting to turn our experiences of events into history.
Gonaduwa is a self-taught, experimental enamel artist, and the founder of Read&Seed, a home-based secondhand book exchange with a cult following. She is a member of Fireflies (International Women Artist’s Network) and also CoCA (Collective of Contemporary Artists).
Lawson Pest Control Pvt) Ltd.
Mahbubur Rahman completed his MFA in Drawing and Painting at the Institute of Fine Art, University of Dhaka in 1993. In his career, spanning more than two decades, Mahbub has held a number of solo shows at home and abroad in Asia, Europe and the United States. He is the Honorary Artistic Director of the Britto Arts Trust, an artist-run non-profit platform based in Dhaka.
Screenings of his video work, The City Gate, was presented at Cinema Reflet Medicis, Paris, 2009, Reina Sofia National Museum, Madrid, 2010 and at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2010; Raku, Zainul Gallery, Faculty of Fine Art, University of Dhaka, 2009 and Rickshaw Chole-Re at Arts Council in Kathmandu, 2008.
Rahman has also exhibited with his artist wife, Tayeba Begum Lipi, in two-person shows such as Parables of our Times, Gallery Akar Prakar, Kolkata, 2010; Artificial Reality, La Galerie, Alliance Française Dhaka, 2002 and Slave of the Civilization, a performance at Jyvaskyla, Finland, 2000.
Video artist Malaka Dewapriya is committed to exploring social, political and cultural issues through visual media and her literary engagement as a playwright. Her cinematic works have been shown and won awards at international film festivals and exhibitions in Israel, Japan, Netherlands, USA, Germany, India, Pakistan, Italy and Austria. Having graduated from University of Colombo Sri Lanka 2005, she won a scholarship for Film, Video and New Media at Akademie Schloss Solitude in Germany. In 2009, she was an Asia-Pacific Fellow at National Goyang Art Studio, at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Seoul. Dewapriya is currrently in the final production stages of her first full-length feature film, called “The Undecided”.
For the Biennale, Dewapriya’s video art production “Pristine” was shot in Anuradhapura and examines how various layers of history co-exist and how they interact in our narratives, blurring boundaries and perceptions.
P413 is a 25-year old experimental artist who dabbles in street art and graffiti. He uses bold colours and draws in a style that fuses Nineties cartoons, classic comic book style, and the child within. In his day job, he works as an accounting consultant, whilst trying to pave a way for his art at night. Constantly straddling the two worlds he works in, he is fascinated by how far away they are from each other, yet so similar.
He doesn’t always work solo. He also has a “wolfpack” of like-minded experimentalists who collectively call themselves the P413 Mob. Their most recent projects include breaking the Guinness World Record for the biggest papier mâché sculpture. His work can often be seen around Colombo, both inside and outside of galleries.
Self-taught artist and photographer Poornima Jayasinghe is interested in the question of whether photography can offer the same freedom of expression to the artist as painting. Am I taking photographs of existing reality, or creating my own world? Or does each medium lend itself exclusively to the expression of different truths? To quote Lewis Hine, “If I could say it in words, I wouldn’t need to photograph.”
Many believe that an obviously manipulated image is a trick, but Jayasinghe thinks that shows a lack of understanding of the unique power of photography. The technical aspect of her photographs is her answer to the questions above. For the manipulated image, the question “Is it real?” does not arise because the medium has the power to go beyond reality and bring a thought or concept into concrete existence.
Her interactive artwork for the Biennale was created using photographs and live video projection. She creates an unpredictable narrative around the theme of “Making History”—which she sees as a therapeutic process—in order to engage in a dialogue with the audience.
Jayasinghe is currently working as head of art at the British School in Colombo. In addition to photography, her art practice includes paintings, graphic illustration, installation and interactive art.
Koralegedera Pushpakumara works in many genres, including painting, sculpture, poster design and set and costume design, and has exhibited extensively in Sri Lanka. In addition, he has taken part in many international workshops and group exhibitions in India, Sweden, Pakistan, and the Netherlands. He has received many local awards including First Place for Painting in 1995 at the Youth Services Council Award Festival, as well as in the State Awards Festival 1999. His latest series, “Goodwill Hardware,” which has been exhibited at the Theeertha Red Dot Gallery, the Colombo Art Biennale and at the Hempel Gallery in Colombo, has been highly acclaimed.
Born in 1968 in Gampola, Kandy, Pushpakumara received his art education from the Institute of Aesthetic Studies at the University of Kelaniya, where he graduated with a BFA in painting in 1997. He also received a Diploma in Archeology at the Postgraduate Institute of Archeology, University of Kelaniya in 2003. At present, he is reading for his MA in Art History at the same university. Koralegedara Pushpakumara lives and works in Colombo.
Reginald S Aloysius
Reginald S. Aloysius is a British-born artist of Sri Lankan Tamil descent whose background has informed his work exploring themes of globalisation, emigration, and the destruction of tradition—intentionally or otherwise—through development and modernisation.
After graduating from The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University, Aloysius spent many years freelancing as an Art Technician working directly with artists across Europe before completing a Masters at Kingston University on a research-based drawing programme.
Through the exploration of the iconography of Sri Lankan and Southern Indian temples, Aloysius investigates the social agency inherent in any cultural choice.
His detailed drawings of Indian Hindu temples coupled with a delicate use of paint evoke parallels with early colonial photographers in a Asia. Though these works are structured according to tradition, modernity enters through vector-like routes—precise series of lines based on airline flight paths are mapped on to the works, scarring irrevocably onto the image with a scalpel, before finally painting into the grooves using Humbrol paint, thus melding together two quite different iconographic registers. These marks can be understood as lines that threaten the certainty of national identity with the shifting, nomadic identity of trans-national cultures.
Sharni Jayawardena began her professional life as a press reporter in Colombo, Sri Lanka, but soon moved to a career in documentary filmmaking as a writer, director and editor. Her documentaries cover the environment, the arts, gender, poverty, conflict and human rights, themes whose inter-connectedness she increasingly explored. She was awarded the Journalism for Tolerance Prize 2003 (Broadcast category) for South Asia by the International Federation of Journalists for the documentary titled Defiant Art for “excellence in journalism combating racism and discrimination”. The documentary looks at ways in which five artists from Sri Lanka’s three main ethnic communities explore conflict and violence and use their art to express empathy and outrage, and create responsiveness and reconciliation.
Having recently moved to still photography, Sharni was a participant photographer in the Sethusamudram Art Project of the Theertha Artists’ Collective, which explored the complex histories shared by India and Sri Lanka, and included artists from both countries. Sharni is currently working with anthropologist Malathi de Alwis to photographically document devotion to the Goddess Kannaki/Pattini in Sri Lanka, a project supported by the Prince Claus Fund.
Sharni was the photographer of the Herstories archival project and of the audio slideshow series titled The Next Page for Groundviews’ Thirty Years Ago project.
Kolkata-born artists Susanta Mandal originally trained as a painter, but since then has branched out into more conceptual installation-based work. Mandal’s recent art practice explores the concept of energy. His mixed-media installations, which often utilize spotlights and kinetic mechanisms, seem playful but are actually uncanny and ultimately disconcerting constructions.
The rapid growth of imbalance in modern urban life does not have a transparent future, which Mandal has attempted to expose by building a new structure on the wall as a moving design to give a visual description of invisible energies which surround us.
Mandal enhances each installation by balancing theatrical lights with deep shadows. Through chiaroscuro, the works take on narrative and performative elements, echoing the tradition of vernacular storytelling in India.
Mandal has exhibited widely in India and around Asia. He is currently part of the Layout Artists’ Collective.
Ambika Jain and Amit kumar Jain, Navsar, India
Pietro Ruffo was born in Rome, where he continues to live and works. Pietro studied Architecture at the University of Rome, and then got a research fellowship at Columbia University, New York. Pietro has exhibited widely including at the MACRO and MAXXI museums in Rome; he has also shown in Berlin, Paris, London, New York, and Moscow. In 2009 he was awarded the Premio Cairo and in 2011 the New York Prize from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His artist residencies have included stints at The International Studio and Curatorial Program, New York, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Italy and Nirox Foundation in Johannesburg, South Africa.
His work is included in many public collections, including those of the museums of contemporary art in Rome (Macro) and Bologna (Mambo); as well as private and corporate collections such as the Deutsche Bank Collection (Frankfurt), Fondazione Pastificio Cerere (Rome), Fondazione Giuliani (Rome), Depart Foundation (Rome, L.A.), Fondazione Guastalla (Switzerland), and Lodeveans Collection (London). Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma has represented Pietro Ruffo since 2006.
Layout was started in 2010 in New Delhi by a group of artists interested in making site-specific installations working mostly with construction material, influenced by the DIY culture. The artists are concerned with creating a specific cultural landscape whose character is influenced by the geological structure, history and culture of the environment in which the work is created. They draw inspiration from technology in order to create a vision of reality expressed solely through hypothetical projects. The members are M. Pravat, Navid Tschopp, Sayantan Maitra Boka and Susanta Mandal.
M. Pravat is a painter from Baroda who has exhibited widely in India and internationally and participated in innumerable shows in India and abroad.
Swiss artist Navid Tschoff uses his art and architecture training to engage the field between Orient and Occident and explore the many layers between image and action.
Sayantan Maitra Boka trained as an architect and heads the interactive design firm, Illusion In Motion He also works with NGO Shelter Promotion Council (India) to produce public art festivals in India. The focus of Susanta Mandal’s recent mixed media installations is on the concept of energy. The collective has showed in the Kochi Biennale, at the Devi Art Foundation in Gurgaon and the Kiran Nader Museum, Noida.