Setusamudurum Art Project (SAP), an ambitious undertaking by Theertha and 1 Shanthi Road, initiated in May 2010 when a group of Sri Lankan artists went to Bangalore to engage in discussions and meetings with artists and other key contributors and to hold the first good will exhibition to keep the art flow going between Sri Lanka and India.
Jagath Weerasinghe, Anoli Perera, Anura Krishantha and Nishantha Hettiarchchi (Theertha) met with a number of artists whom contributed to fruitful and enlightening discussions on Bangalore as a transforming city and its complexities as a prelude to the larger discussions and exchanges that will follow during the next 3 years within the project.
These preliminary meetings and discussions in 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore settled the initial tone and form to the first and second phases of SAP where it will focus on Colombo relooking at its different aspects from a contemporary South Indian/ Sri Lankan perspective, delineating its contemporary narratives and juxtaposing them with its official histories. In this quest of relooking at the city, Colombo will be dissected within the following thematics:
• City as a transcript of human geography: Human Migration and transient center
• City a body of architecture and built space
• City a colonial legacy
• City as a commercial centre
• City as an entertainment city
• city as a waste land
Theertha artists have been working on the research to compile a substantial body of knowledge to share with the visiting Indian and other international artists. Regular discussions on the progress of information gathering have been held among the Theertha artists and a number of survey trips have been organized around the city to revise both new and old cultural markers.
Phase I- 2010
During Phase I, Theertha artists and other invited individuals relating to the project will do a large effort on understanding the city and its numerous aspects under the above loose categorization. Two events are organized to present the material unearthed in the SAP project.
1) SAP residency/ exhibition 2010: Scheduled in Sri Lanka in October with 3-4 Indian artists and 5 Sri Lankan artists working for 3-4 weeks.
2) Exhibition ‘Under the Overpass: A city under Scrutiny’ (provisional title) by the Sri Lankan artists working on Colombo city for the SAP project. Artists will venture into experimenting in new media, photography and video art to present their thesis on the city.
In addition to the above two official events organized specifically for SAP, Theertha has already begun to engage in other activities keeping the idea of Colombo City under scrutiny. For instance, an art program entitled ‘Let’s Take A Walk: Mapping Colombo’ is launched to engage with very young children from Fort, one of the commercial hubs of Colombo, and its surrounding area as well as with the Cinnamon Gardens, one of Colombo’s elite areas. This program will work with the children to redraw the cultural map of their own localities through several processes of discovery, engagement and learning where they will deal with ideas of heritage, preservation and appreciation. The other is the International Artists Workshop which will also focus on Colombo City.
3) A Residency Program at 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore.
Phase II- 2011
The second phase of SAP has to do with how permeations of India/South India have merged into the Colombo’s socio- cultural landscapes and how comfortably or uncomfortably they remain within their contexts and within their reinterpreted authenticities. Artists will search the subaltern narratives and interpretations to find and reassess the Indian connection and how we have constructed and maintained the ‘otherness’ in India. Artists will try to understand the politics and particularities that have played a part in making this otherness.
Two events will take place in Sri Lanka:
1. International Artists Residency
More information of these events will be provided at a future date. Sethusamudurum Art Project will evolve according to the unraveling of the activities already scheduled. This will allow the project the flexibility to absorb any new discoveries and new directions and renew its energy over the course of the 3 years.