when flesh fades away all your left with memory of them ;second series, the homage
photo documentation credit to ; Ruvindu , Chinthaka thenuwara and Lojithan Ram ,Venue : COCA symbiosis , Colombo
At the emergence of a new era ,coined as “new reality”; civilizations have come to a verge of a halt, to reimagine a world after post humanity. At a rapid speed de territorialization occurring in close proximities in our surroundings. Actions of conservation, accumulation of history and memory are now part of Arche’s embodiment. Predominantly arises as a new discourse or new necessity for Utopian envisioning.
Anthropocene doesn’t addresses the demeanor of the past and the present anymore, but moved towards creating a discourse on unforeseen future/futurism . Temporalities of cultural histories, inheritance, heritage, communities, identities which are at vulnerable or marginalized positions are directly been subjected/ affected by these rapid changes. Landscapes, objects, debris traces these temporalities, seizing a momentary repulsion to the forgetfulness and annihilation of these spaces and civilizations.
My new project takes its locus on the recent demolishing of heritage building De Soysa ,situated at Malay Street in slave island.
Built in the late 1870s by the famed philanthropist Charles Henry de Soysa (the wealthiest Ceylonese of the 19th century), the De Soysa building is a heritage structure that used to function as a two-store block for commercial shophouses. Even though the architectural formation show cases reminiscence of Victorian modules , the structure was never built by a local businessmen . There is slight linear tilting within its architecture, constructed according to the positioning of the justice Akbar road which runs alongside the building.
De Soysa building located within a topographical space actively been subjugated to assertions of baseline syndrome. Development plans in process of gentrification , rapid alterations, succumbed by the capitalocene( a pervasive human influence over non human). State amidst these occurrences poignantly camouflage their agendas masking and propagating nationalistic upheavals. Further expanding disparities among communities .(majority and minority ethnographic groups)
Racial Capitalocene, an expansion from the basis of Anthropocene discourse; asserting new frame works on hybridization of socio environmental ,eco-political , to ontological existence of identity and geology as entangled subjectivities. Racial capitalocene demands further assertions to discuss on disparities within structures of culture , geology and history in one phenomena.
Through De Soysa as an existing symbolic motif we hence focus on the occurrence of chrono phage (Greek term for time eater) conditioning onto its trajectory of being a nonexistence looming shadow. An occurrence coined under the situation of amnesiac principles, actions which effects forgetting: while assimilating archives. The existence of the building’s architecture, communities inhabited, its inheritance, past histories gradually succumbed into amnesiac existence. Creating hollow fragments, sinkholes which are coined as ghost archives within the Arche. Memorials, archives, interlaces as symbolic gestures within the play of forgetting , sanitization.
Unfolding from the remains or debris, archaic narratives are to create an intact symbolical interface of how De Soysa as a monument carries its presence to the future. Its physical absence traces of the community, heritage are encountered from its fragmented existence. Unfolded through the debris , materials collected , which contains its humanistic entanglements , with time encompassed within the materiality of the sediments. These fragmented debris questions the myth and fixative underpinning of what is heritage ?, but creates a revelation to the trajectories of what is to become our utopian concept of futurism.
Creating a symbolic engagement with the dead materials of the archives and with the audience that re-interconnects the pastness, present and future promise of its existence. It is not mere encountering of preserving a nostalgia, historicization but to create a discourse upon paradoxes of such heritage sites, communities, environments are at the verge of been succumbed to washed out. The installation created carried a clinically cleansed atmosphere, which encompassed performances which carried fragments of ritualistic interlayers. These performances contained intricate layers of costumed personas influenced by the traditional artistic practice. These performances create a discourse about hidden layers of matriarchy and about queer identity within the artistic tradition.
Space exists expansion of our psychological projection than the physical entity. Dawn of modernity openness was considered itself as void. Transparent surfaces created infinite extension of space occupied as a positive entity. The ideal of cleanliness constitutes a powerful and complex tool of colonial ideology and imperial dissemination and as we have seen via thinkers such as Loos and Le Corbusier, the ideology of cleanliness and the movement toward de ornamentation sustained the making of a modern and implicitly European style ( Le Corbusier’s “thick coat of white”).
The installation space consists of this mortified presence of eerie sanitized presence. The floor covered by a thick layer of polythene layer to each furniture/ object draped or covered with white drapery. Creates a hyphened sensation of void , at times openness and for some comforting presence. The sculptures placed within a circuit of an in built shrine . Directly references towards to archive memorials built with the churches which were demolished during the bomb blast.
We could observe disparities between the memorial archived structures between either incidents.
Rooftiles collected from the De Soysa building throughout the installations been dipped in water , allowing the earthly smells to be active once again
Shrine in front of Jaffna fort Lotus bed from a shrine in wattala , Colombo
Each glass cased statutes consisted with narratives juxta positioned with the symbolism of Southern curative tradition. The personas ornate by the elaborate patterns consisted of recurring imagery of “mother” throughout past and present context
1 feet by 1 feet glass box consists of all the debris collected from the sculptures within the installation space. Black symbolizes a person who has attained Nirvana or enlightenment. Black crown symbolizes enlightened figurine. At present from the time of Pre colonial era all Buddhists are not allowed to wear black .( Buddhist nationalists considers black as an impure color and color of minority)
Yellow symbolizes god “Natha” , one the main four guardian deities of the island . He’s considered as “Avalokitheswara ” by the Mahayanist Buddhists and Theravada followers believe him as the persona of next Buddha or “Maithree” Buddha . Within institutionalized Buddhism , including Natha the other four deities consider as significant protectors. therefore we see them having their own in built Ghruha or houses for gods in Buddhist temple architecture . The yellow crown with four corners , grants protection from the deity Natha , to the land we reside.
Blue symbolizes another deity of protection , god Vishnu . The crown/ kaagul over here has been made not accordingly to the initial measurements or forms . The bust is more widened , metaphorical flora extensions either side been missing (symbolizes divine) , triple ornate corners (symbolize the three cosmic worlds ) missing as well. What we observe is a crown which has missing divine entity .
Green symbolizes another protector of the island , God Kataragama ( name used by the Sinhala community ) or Murugan (name used by the Tamil community) . There is an identical deity in Mahayanists known as Skanda . He’s also worshipped by the indigenous community of Veddhas in Sri Lanka , as his second consort Valli is a princess from the Veddha community( this relationship with valli as a divine blessing is celebrated in the Esala festival , which is also a festival to call in rains ). It is said that god Vishnu and Skanda divinities were instructed by Buddha himself to take positions as guardians to the island . An oral belief by the Sinhala community is that , Skanda is mostly beloved entity of the community.
Goddess pattini symbolizes by red , considered as one of the guardian deities as well . Yet she’s intricately connected to been worshipped frequently in times of health , misfortune , fertility, protection of the child. Pattini also has close affinity to kiri amma ( kiri ; means milk, amma; mother ) and she’s been part of the rituals connecting either of them. She has her own cult of worshippers, who are mostly male following her as a main core divinity .( many Sinhala )
In this composition she wears not the ritualistic crown/ Kagul worn for the healing purposes . But a crown which symbolizes imperial order to the land , hierarchy.
Gammaduwawa ( sacred stage built specifically for ritual purposes in a villlage ) Shanthikarma ( curative rituals) pattini and the other three guardian deities are called for protection and fertility. We could observe later years from the time of 2009 , during the last civil war period for the protection of the armed forces and the state . We can observe these rituals symbolically performed by the sinhala Buddhist nationalistic agenda. Some of the traditional motifs and ritualistic landscapes drastically changed according to these agendas create problematic changes to the originality, aesthetics and the disrupts the systematic core of the practices.
Gammaduwawa as an orchestrated strategy
What observation is obscured by the Sinhala Buddhist ethnographic representation is that she is also the goddess of virtue. She is called upon when injustice occurs . “Pattini Salamba” which is been worn by each performer symbolizes her purity, her sacrifice for the protection and righteousness. She’s also worshipped by the Hindu followers : Tamil community given the name “Kannaki” .
White symbolizes Attained Nirvana or enlightenment . The crown has multiple changes , including the bloom floral extensions which symbolizes to divine connections to the three cosmic worlds.
Upper ornate statue
When the Easter attack , happened what effected mostly was the tourism . A man who had been tour guide for months lost his income . He abandoned the building and moved out . He even left the small Madonna idol (holy water container) . Urban Development projects are rapidly scheduled to develop country’s tourism industry. Majority of these development projects run by foreign co-operates