Travelogue | Art in a Fragile State

This trip was made from 27 to 30 March 2010 on the occasion of the ‘Theertha International Artists’ Residency Exhibition’. The Theertha International Artists Collective is an artist-led, non-profit initiative based in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Established in 2000, they currently have a board of 12 members, the majority of whom are artists who take up different duties on a part-time basis.

Given the very limited art infrastructure within Sri Lanka, the Theertha International Artists Collective takes on multiple roles to promote contemporary art, including “publications, teacher training, international workshops/residencies, exhibitions, computer training, developing local art networks and sustaining regional and international connections.” The international residency programme is their key method to promoting art exchange, building networks and raising the exposure of Sri Lankan artists. This edition of the residency programme took video art practice as its focus.

The devastating, 26-year Sri Lankan Civil War ended after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in May 2009. Sri Lanka remains a fragile state under the strong rule of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Barricades, checkpoints and political tensions are still very much part of everyday life for civilians in this country (my visit was less than two weeks prior to their first parliamentary election after the Civil War). In this light, despite being in the country at a critical point in its history I had to accept that what I was able to achieve through the short trip was fairly minimal.



Phoebe WONG, 黃小燕

Tue, 1 Jun 2010

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