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Sunday Time Plus – February 2012

This February, the Colombo Art Biennale invites the public to become part of the artful transformation of Colombo as the Biennale takes over Park Street Mews, J.D.A. Perera Gallery and National Art Gallery to showcase a variety of contemporary art. CAB will also host an array of fringe events around Colombo – exhibitions, performances, workshops, screenings, art talks including panel discussions, debates and presentations, artist dinners and the Colombo Art Biennale ‘Becoming One’ party.

Visitors to the first Art Biennale held in 2009 at the Park Street Mews

To be held from February 15 – 19, CAB will see 24 local artists and 17 international artists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Australia and the US, presenting their work to the public.

Following on from the first Colombo Art Biennale held in 2009, under the theme ‘Imagining Peace’- this year it is ‘Becoming’, a theme that speaks to all the possibilities of the present in Sri Lanka.

CAB was launched as a response to the lack of recognition received by the country’s wonderfully talented artists. As the country has emerged from the restrictions of its 26-year war, so its artists are free to seek the spotlight on both national and international stages.

Whilst ‘Imagining Peace’ dealt with the immediate aftermath of war, the concept of ‘Becoming’ is intended to highlight the huge potential for positive development and change in Sri Lanka extending well beyond the remit of culture and the arts. This is a process in fact that is already in motion.

Co-Founder Jagath Weerasinghe explains: “The 2012 CAB theme ‘Becoming’ denotes the idea of potentiality of transformation or movement – a transformation that is initiated and in progress. While Becoming translates into an idea of a transitional space, meaning ‘possibility of being in a moment between two decisive ends’, it plays on the uncertainty of certainty, up-rootedness, giving it a sense of akathesia (state of restlessness), criticality and open-endedness eluding logical conclusions or undoubted convictions. Therefore, ‘Becoming’ remains distanced from what it was before, and it is the last space left for pondering before concretizing the trajectory’s end. It’s a space for envisions, doubts, self- reflections, mirroring and intensity of thought.”

The expansive title of ‘Becoming’ thus opens up the opportunity for this to be the most dynamic exhibition yet to be held in Sri Lanka. CAB is funded mainly by the Norwegian Embassy of Sri Lanka (funding the Sri Lankan artists), Mimeta Centre for Cultural Development and Standard Chartered Bank.

Annoushka Hempel and Jagath Weerasinghe, the Colombo Art Biennale Co-Founders, were delighted by the response to ‘Imagining Peace’ and as the excitement builds for ‘Becoming’ this coming February, Colombo can expect an even more vibrant and innovative display of contemporary art.

Curating the upcoming Biennale, are two internationally renowned curators Suresh Jayaram (Founder and Director of 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore) and Roman Berka (art historian, Director of Museum in Progress, Vienna). This year the Colombo Art Biennale has a new Co-Director, Neil Butler. Neil shares his time between Sri Lanka and Europe, where he has enjoyed 18 years of directing several large cultural events.

The Sri Lankan artists at the Biennale are: Anoli Perera, Anoma Rajakaruna, Anura Krishantha, Varatharajan Balamurugan, Bandu Manamperi, Chandragupta Thenuwara, Dominic Sansoni, Fireflies featuring: Lakisha Fernando , Manori Jayasinghe, Therica Miyanadeniya, Vijayalan Thujiba, Inoka De Silva, Janany Cooray, Krishanthi Sepalika, Manori Gamarachchi, H. D. Shamila , Niranjala Gunasekera , Priyanthi Kumari , Layla Gonaduwa; Jagath Weerasinghe, Janananda Laksiri, Kannan Arunasalam, Koralegedara Pushpakumara, Kusal Gunasekara, Leo Pasqualge, Malaka Dewapriya, Manori Jayasinghe, Menika van der Poorten, Pala Pothupitiye, Pradeep Chandrasiri, Pradeep Thalawatte, Sanath Kalubadana, Tisath Thoradeniya, Vaidehi Rajasingham and Vimukthi Jayasundara.

Joining them will be: David Barbarino – Germany, Aaron Burton – Australia, Sujan Chitrakar – Nepal, Christian Eisenberger, Hanna Hollmann, Karl Karner, Hans Schabus and Linda Samaraweerová – Austria, Erik van Lieshout – Netherlands, Tayeba Lipi – Bangladesh, Maria McCavana – Scotland/Ireland, Martha Rosler – USA, Erik Pirolt – Norway, Jesper Nordahl – Sweden, Christoph Schlingensief – Germany, Nigel Sense – Australia, Madiha Sikander – Pakistan, , Tori Wraanes – Norway and Vibha Galhotra – India.

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