LT September 2015 | Art Scene by Saskia Fernando

The artists are the core of any art scene surrounded by collectors and gallerists. However, it is the non profit, non commercial, experimental and sustainable initiatives or events that take place on the periphery of a city that eventually becomes the proof of development and growth. Sri Lanka’s population, in comparison to that of India or China, places us amongst others that make up the South Asian art scene. The countries belonging to this wedge internationally that placed themselves in the limelight over the past ten years are Pakistan and Bangladesh, with Pakistani artists now represented in some of the leading galleries worldwide and the Dhaka Art Summit attracting the who’s who of art world royalty. Sri Lanka has today moved it’s way to the forefront of emerging art scenes in South Asia and while the likes of internationally acclaimed curators, auctions houses and museum directors are all gracing us with their presence it remains the less obvious that show clear signs of a sustainable evolution.

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In the month of August we were graced by two weeks of talks surrounding exhibitions and performance art presentations both with very strong curatorial input. The first event, titled ‘Watch This Space’ and curated by Sanjana Hattotuwa, founder of (a website with a journalistic focus) presented an exhibition based on conflict art with artists from Sri Lanka alongside other conflict-ridden countries of the world. Colomboscope took place on a wider scale, across four locations, presenting international artists, talks and tours all themed on urban landscapes with a focus on the development of the city of Colombo. Natasha Ginwala, an independent curator whose most recent projects included the Venice Biennale and the Berlin Biennale respectively, curated the contemporary art exhibition in the abandoned Rio hotel.

The Hot Butter Collective was launched in June 2015 with an exhibition titled IN SPACE. While the collectives aims include providing exposure to artists commercially, the experimental nature of the mediums presented in their exhibitions and the combination of artists working in performance, music, photography, digital and other mediums resulted in an exhibition based more on interactive installations that provided an experience into the new wave of young artists thirsty to be involved in pop up exhibition spaces that involve less influence from the buying and selling nature of the art world.

Floating Space was established by Ruhanie Perera and Jake Orloff in 2007. The platform presents performance art with an intention to break the norms of theatre in Sri Lanka. The platform has today presented dance, theatre and performance art heavily curated and diverse with a strong focus on gender and politics.

Raking Leaves has just launched their latest project that is open for crowd funding through Art Basels online platform. The project is titled the ‘A-Z of Conflict’ and is based on the translation of how conflict has affected Sri Lanka and features works by Sri Lankan artists interpreting the alphabet in relation to their understanding of Sri Lanka post-war. This will be the largest artwork based on conflict to have ever been published.

Original article can be viewed here


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