Theme and Artistic Concept for CAB 2016

The theme for CAB 2016 is ‘Conceiving Space.’ As an artistic provocation ‘Conceiving Space’ seeks to open up a paradigm of seeing and possibilities for creative production that engage with explorations and contestations that revolve around diverse senses of space. ‘Conceiving Space’ seeks to reimagine the traditional ‘spatial’ in relation to concept, boundaries and engagement; it demands a foray into space as public and private; space as protest; space as tangible and imagined; space as community, memory and legacy; space as architectural, conceptual, performative, temporal, spiritual, symbolic, intuitive and rhythmic; space as liminal and ritualistic; space as embodied and meditative; space as virtual and transcendent.

Community Engagement

To artistically conceive space – as material environment, historical experience, lived reality, or a sense of place – demands creative interrogation and imagination. It demands multiplicity in perspective and approach and seeks to ask questions of form, seeking to explore the breadth of artistic medium that can be engaged with as a provocation about what constitutes art for artists and art communities. The CAB 2016 will be prioritizing a strong programme based on community engagement and educational programmes.

Overview: The Colombo Art Biennale 2009-2014

The Colombo Art Biennale (CAB) is the largest and most significant contemporary art manifestation in Sri Lanka. It was created to showcase contemporary Sri Lankan art and artists, and to build a platform upon which talented Sri Lankan artists would gain recognition both nationally and internationally. The CAB was conceived in a time and place where peace was not a reality; hence the inaugural theme of “Imagining Peace” in 2009 was a hopeful pledge for the future. In its second edition in 2012, the CAB set new goals with its theme “Becoming” and attempted to capture the excitement and optimism of the moment as a nation newly freed from conflict contemplated its future. In 2014, the theme “Making History” was selected as a provocation to embark on a journey through art that engages with ‘history’ as versions, as narratives and counter narratives; memory both collective and personal; violence as performed and remembered; and resistance as approached through a multi-dimensional art practice. Its socially conscious slant positioned the artists as witness, commentator and interrogator of social moments.

In 2009, the CAB featured 20 local and seven international artists and was curated by five leading Colombo artists/galleries. It attracted over 2,500 visitors. The CAB 2012 featured 24 local and 17 international artists selected by its two curators from Bangalore and Vienna. In 2014, the ‘Making History’ edition featured 56 artists, both local and international, and performance artists (from India, Bangladesh, Qatar, Nepal, Germany, Austria, the UK, France, Scotland, Ireland, Iran, Sweden, Switzerland, China, the USA, and Italy) curated by a team of four curators, and hosted over 3500 visitors from around the world. Seven locations were used for the main events. The CAB has also attracted an international institutional presence from professional art organisations including the Berlin Biennale, IFA, Mimeta, OCA, iapsis, TheQatar Museum Authority, the British Council, the Goethe Institute, the Alliance Francaise,Sovereign Art Foundation, Dhaka Art Summit, InSitu, Pro-Helvetia, Creative Scotland and1 Shanthiroad. Locally, the CAB welcomed associations and links formed with representatives from the government, diplomatic missions, cultural institutions, senior business leaders, curators, collectors and gallerists.