Chathuri Nissansala (b.1993, Colombo) is a multidisciplinary artist working with performance art, painting, sculpture and graphics. Her works raise poignant questions about notions of gender, class and nationalism in Sri Lanka. A recipient of the Commonwealth Scholarship, South East Asia by Indian Council for Cultural Relations, ICCR (2012), Chathuri acquired a Bachelor in Fine Arts (Painting) from Chitra Kala Parishath, Bengaluru (2017) and Master in Visual Arts (Painting) from Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, Vadodara (2019).
She has performed and exhibited across Asia, some of these include solo exhibition ‘Ritualizing the disfigured: Memorials of healing from Sri Lanka’ by Anant art gallery , Delhi;Rehang, curated by Uthra Rajgopal and Anant art , Bikhaner house , Delhi ( 2021)Responses to Memory, curated by Oorja Garg at Gillehri Arts initiative (2020); 15th Virtual Concert: Celebrating Women’s Month in South Africa, curated by Bernadette Muthien (2020); Umnyama 2020, curated by Pranamita Borgohain and organized by Young Hearts, India (2020); Lock Unlock: Edition 9 organised by Dagmar Glaustnitzer Smith (2020); Webinars organised by Huxxyduxxybox performance art collective including The Action Poetry, curated by Frank Bready Trejo (2020); Be-coming Tree, curated by Jatun Risba, O.Pen, Danielle Imara and Chris Grady (2020) and Performance Art Project: Asia in collaboration with Rah Residency, Iran (2020). She also participated in the Student’s Biennale, Kochi Muziris Biennale, India (2016).
She has participated in various workshops and residences including residency ‘Kal’ , collaborative between district school at Berlin,Archive books , Goethe institute Karachi and Colombo; a series of online conversations Chronicles of Confinement, organised by Hector Canonge, New York (2020); Artsathone, organised by British Council, Colombo, Sri Lanka (2019) and Body workshop, facilitated by Nikhil Chopra and Madhavi Ghore, organised by HH Art space in collaboration with Asia Art Archive and Serendipity Art Foundation, Vadodara (2017).
Currently, she is carrying out her apprenticeship under artist Somapala Pothupitiye and learning the traditional practice of costume-making at Mullegama Art Centre (MAC), Colombo, Sri Lanka.
My parameter of interest is an engagement to understand the role of an individual oscillating within the layers of the society. Socio political enigmas, histories of detest boundaries laid upon that make structures of culture, society, civilizations that exist as these layers and their predominance. Living within the region of South Asia understanding these dichotomies within the society and approaching them through visual engagements – tends to exist as the locus of my work. Creating subversive approaches to thematic on marginality , identity, frivolous socio political agendas that leads onto chrono phage accumulation within history and archives .
Each work developed through concurrent research materials collected through personal experience, interviews and archaic material of the subjectivity. Interweaving each element correlates to its presence within its embodiment.
Allowing each element to transcend itself, creating a habitat Oscillating between being , void , space and memory . The presence of the space and its existence with the human presence creating performance or performativity engagement within . Molding in performativity aspects and its relational aesthetics with space and archaic material ( archiviolithic) .
“Searching for my mother” is a series that began as a quest of inquiry to understand and revoke the role of matriarchy in the context of “mother” in Sri Lanka—through my mother’s memory as a window opened new dialogues within the contest of history and identity structures of gender and sexuality in Sri Lanka.
The work developed further with my urge to understand Sri Lanka’s traditional, cultural identity blurred by the imperial anecdotes under its diverse history of performative studies. My encounter with southern artistic, ritualistic practices was its deep roots in these cultural diversities. The southern artistic, ritualistic art form has many lineages which connect back to the early dwellers of the island to Orissa, South Indian performance arts. It has constantly moved into embracing hybridity, which could be seen later during colonial times.
Looking into the Matara branch of the tradition (a coastal region in Sri Lanka), which is the longest deep-rooted of the three distinct geographical areas of the South. Somapala Pothupitiya has been the last artisan who works deeply still with this artistic, ritualistic lineage. The work embarks on a journey as his apprentice to understand this tradition and to create a discourse to rediscover the past, which is disappearing.