If you are shown photos of your own hands and palms, will you be able to recognize them? Have you looked at them close enough?
On the 18th of March 2019 at Theertha Performance Platform (TPP), I sat at a table from 11 am to 5.30 pm, translating and writing down various headlines, articles, and bits of information about Chelsea Manning. There was a chair opposite where passers-by could sit and talk to me. The location was Borella junction, one of the busiest places in Colombo. It had been a week since Manning was sent to prison for refusing to testify before a secret grand jury that is drawing up fabricated charges against Julian Assange.
When someone took the seat, I read out quotations from an article I had on the table, or from one of the translations I did. This triggered a conversation. Many people knew who she is, some did not. Those who sat there got involved in many different ways. They wrote down their thoughts, poems, letters, phrases and made drawings in response to what I said or did. Thanks to TPP, there was an international audience, writing and responding in a wide range of languages: Sinhala, Tamil, English, Kannada, Greek, Persian, Urdu and even Esperanto! (These written material will be added to another performance installation in the near future.) Some of the participants wanted to talk about Chelsea, Assange and Wikileaks; about heroes of our time. It was a table where we celebrated what Chelsea Manning has done. This was meant to be very simple and direct. This shared moment, this conversation matters; this consciousness and awareness alone counts. Thank you everyone for stopping by and getting involved. Chelsea Manning should be freed immediately!
Conversations about Chelsea Manning: A performance by Lohan Gunaweera. Photographed by Vasantha Wakkumbura. (Images are available under CC-BY-SA)
UN-CERTAIN (November 2018)
Video (4.26 Minutes)
By Lohan Gunaweera
Four steps forward. Four steps back. A dead end. UN-CERTAIN attempts to look at and respond to the uncertainty that prevails in the current socio-political moment. We are witnessing the deterioration of the foundations of nation, the nation state, and “country”. The nationalist world outlook faces a dead end.
UN-CERTAIN was first exhibited on the 11th November 2018 as part of the Open Studio of the moving image workshop ‘Hybrid Discourse: art, science, media, and material’ held at Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Borella. The workshop was conducted by Bharathesh GD from the 7th – 11th of November 2018, a week of extreme political and social turmoil in Sri Lanka. It was inevitable that some of the works produced during the workshop dealt with the unravelling crisis.
රට, දේශය, ජනරජය, நாட்டின், குடியரசு, … (Country, land, nation, republic in Sinhala and Tamil) are repeated forward and backward/reversed in the soundtrack, sometimes remixed and mashed up with a popular patriotic song. Videos were shot using Boomerang mobile app on a Samsung s4 phone. Edited with Kdenlive.
Reviving the blog.
I hope there will be regular updates and posts from now on. Mostly in the form of images.