The Beauty of Barbed Wire: Sri Lanka’s cutting edge exhibition

Banyan News Reporters

Colombo, Sri LankaBanyan News Reporters learns that Sri Lanka will hold the world’s first barbed wire exhibition for 180 days beginning 1st September  at the Bandaranaike Memorial Hall under the auspices of the Ministry of Human Rights Disaster Management. Titled ‘The Beauty of Barbed Wire’ the exhibition will showcase cultural uses and relevance of barded wire in Sri Lanka.

“Barbed wire is such a misunderstood medium. This exhibition will demonstrate the multiple uses for barbed wire in Sri Lanka and the long-standing importance of barbed wire in Sri Lankan culture” says the curator of the exhibition, Katherine Gracious.

The use of barbed wire as an aesthetic boundary is a principal focus of the exhibition. The gardens of the BMICH will also be used for this section of the exhibition with a number of leading garden designers and horticulturalists involved. “While the ‘Rose Barbed Garden’ will be an obvious favourite with the attendees, others such as the ‘Vegetable Coil Garden’ and the ‘Ayurvedic Hook Garden’ will also draw the crowds” said Ms. Gracious, when BNR met her in a tent framed by coils of razor wire that she said will serve as her office for the duration of the exhibition.

“As a Westerner my first reaction to barbed wire was to feel repelled by it. But having seen how it is used so simply and sensitively even in the displacement camps run by the Government, I can see how it makes Sri Lankans across the island feel comfortable and at home. We Westerners might see it as incarceration, but I now know that for Sri Lankans it is about their home and culture” pointed out Ms. Gracious. The exhibition will include a barbed wire poruwa.

According the official sources the exhibition is meant to be part of a public relations exercise by the Government to clear up misunderstandings and false allegations about the camps, including that the liberated people of the Vanni are being detained by the Government.

Barbed Wire that will be on exhibit

Barbed Wire that will be on exhibit

“There is a lot of misunderstanding about the use of barbed wire by outsiders, particularly people from the West” claims Deputy Minister for Human Rights Disaster Management, Dr. Rajpal Wijekoone. “The Western media try to claim that because the camps in Vavuniya use barbed wire, they are internment camps. You see, what they fail to realise is that barbed wire is in fact very much a part of Sri Lankan culture and is actually preferred to coconut or palmyrah fronds because of the ventilation and general unobtrusiveness. This is not something these so called independent media from the West understand. What do they know about our culture? This exhibition will reveal the truth. ”

Leading artists and university art students will also present sculptures made from barbed wire. A number of the commissioned works will feature a patriotic theme with representations of the military and the country’s leaders adorned with barbed wire.

“It will be cutting edge. Sri Lanka has always produced amazing art. But through this exhibition we will leave a mark on the world art map” says the Dean of the Art Faculty, Maithipala Somawansa.

Because of the scale of the exhibition, families will be separated at the entry gate to enable them to see the most amount of exhibits. Dr. Wijekoone stressed this is a novel aspect of the exhibition. “No one can accuse of trying to constrain the movement of patrons to the exhibition. We want the people to see as much as possible while there are in there” he went on to say.

Three leading artists from Israel, China and Iran are also expected to exhibit but officials are tight lipped as to their names and the individual pieces, which will be unveiled by the President on the first day of the exhibition.

BNR received unverified reports that one of the exhibits – a map of Sri Lanka done in barbed wire – has been pulled out of the exhibition due to Ministry officials’ concerns that it could misrepresent the country as an open prison.

The exhibition will have a technical side, demonstrating the various types of barbed wire available in the market and other varieties which will soon be available. “This is a very exciting development for the barbed wire sector” says leading barbed wire importer, David Fernando, Executive Director of David Parts & Company. “The Sri Lankan public will finally get to see various barbed wire that we see only in action films and on news clips of Guantanamo.”

“Sri Lanka could well become the largest consumer per capita of barbed wire internationally, so the key challenge is to remove restrictive taxes and allow the private sector to play a more dominant role” Mr. Fernando went on to say.

Currently Sri Lanka imports the bulk of its barbed wire from China and Pakistan. The reduction in duty levy for barbed wire from the current rate of 12.5% of cost would result in a wider cross section of the population having access to this multi-use material. The Ministry of Hardware Imports was unavailable for comment but a source from the Ministry of Construction Material Imports stated that this is a critical issue that the Minister concerned, M. Vadugodapitiya is keen to address during the course of the exhibition.

Official sources said that all necessary arrangements, including special bus services, refreshment stalls, temporary shelters, toilets and medical services will be available to ensure that members of the general public who visit this unique exhibition are well taken care of.

Over 260,000 are projected to visit the exhibition over 180 days, making this one of the world’s largest events on this nature.

  • Concerned Humanitarian

    That the “barbed wire” has become synonymous to the “caging” of IDPs in the internment camps is supposedly coincidental.

  • maara porak

    Oh damn!
    Sri Lankan “Bull-hide” may never be used by Rollce Royce then!?

  • Amelie

    Hilarious piece from BNR. So sad, the circumstances that make it hilarious.

  • aljuhara

    cool- I particularly relate to the barbed wire poruwa…truely Sri Lankan

  • Veedhur

    Brilliant…you can also say that the exhibition is sponsored by foriegn agencies and donors!

  • http://srilankanclassifiedsonline.blogspot.com iresha

    You almost had me there! I believed it for a few seconds!!!

  • chanuka

    ha ha. what about recycled human skin as a canvas substitute and the exhibition on human teeth for ivory jewellery?

  • Gampolaathotho

    It is the same with cockroaches in Germany, the Netherlands while in Australia and china some people are used to eat them roasted. Europeans in general fseem to be feeling that cockroaches trasmit diseases as any other insects would do. – as if they are only insects that spread dseases. If found in hostels or lab, even health authorities controll it. Many become even sick just seeing them in their places in europe, as if they found a most dangerous pathogens.

  • Saambanaar Sugumugam

    As usual BNR’s research and reporting is excellent. I am really encouraged by the expected economic out turn due to the re positioning of the brabed wire in the market. This is a very good example of art for the people and not for its own sake or for the sake of the establishment.

    Every detail is well thought out. I particularly like the idea of seperating families at the gate to give each one the freedom to explore the exhibition at their free will. This acknowledges that family is an opressive institution and individuals should be freed from the family!

    However, you left out one exhibit. There will be live instalation of a barbed living quaters drowned in water in which the president of the country will live to demonstrate the benefits and possibilities hidden in barbed wire habitation. His brother the defence secretary will stand guard outside to protect the presdent being pestered by the vistors and cocroaches.

  • punitham

    Competition corner:
    Prize for the best device to find the type of barbed wire that can withstand heavy floods.

  • Vichara

    The picture you have in your satire is not of barbed wire. It is of razor wire.

  • Jamal

    Using barbed wire is only absurd to Western Ethnocentrists, i.e. the majority of Ngots.

  • K.Anaga

    It is but right that the the government buys BARBED WIRE from China and help them to develop their economy in return for the assistance rendered for the war.

  • Jade

    Can someone live-cast this exhibition via internet? So that the whole world can witness how ‘how it is used so simply and sensitively even in the displacement camps run by the Government’

    J

  • mano1000

    Brilliant work! How do people get these ideas?
    We always criticize western hypocrisy but we do very little to show the true nature in an artistic way. Way to go. Who ever master mind this deserves a medal.
    After the war Sri Lankan talents coming out loud.

  • Dharshana

    How can the barbed wire be part of the Sri Lankan culture when even concept of Personal Land Ownership wasn’t there before the Western Imperialists imposed the idea.? (It was based on this that the lands of the Sinhalese in the up country was robbed)

  • Veedhur

    @ Jamal

    >>Using barbed wire is only absurd to Western Ethnocentrists

    and so is armed military men guarding round the clock to ensure that any one who crosses be beaten/shot…..

    for us Sri Lankan’s it is all so very natural…or even cultural!!

  • http://sunandadeshapriya.wordpress.com sunanda deshapriya

    There will be Chinthanya outlet where you can you buy one chinthanaya booklet get any other three items free, all made by rusted barbed wire: voting cards for opposition, news papers for dissenting voices, foreign magazines with critical articles, cricket bats for other sides bat, shrines others go, asoka glasses for gal arakku; mobile phones for college students, pistols and grenades for under world to kill themselves, chairs for dissenting SLFP MPs to sit, film cameras for anti war films and many more….. the list keep getting longer..

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoEalamInSL NoEalamInSL

    Agree with Rathu Samba, GV Biased. Barb wired-concentration camps, HR issues are West European concepts used to accuse nations with conflicts pushed for “two states option” carinving out countries. In Sri Lanka 59,000(out of 279,000) IDPs have been resettled. Rest during next three moths. GOSL withing deadlines, still they fuss. It is NGOs who … Read Morerefused to digg pits of Toilets deeper when government asked. Now they complaint overflowing tiolets. 10,000 LTTE cardres still with civilians, screening process still going on and not an easy work.

  • Ravi

    Where on earth we look for presdence of barbed wire use? Ministers are still trying to be clever with media on minority issues. Atleast they should have the curtesy of saying “these are sensitive issues I wouldn’tt like to comment on this at the moment. But our government and india are dealing with it.”.

  • undergroundview

    Of course – a barbed wire mobile phone holder to keep the schoolkids safe from evil. His majesty will be pleased. You’re a genius, sunanda!

  • Eelavan

    The most stupendous article I’ve ever heard. How crazy are these Sri Lankan people. How about putting in some wild lions to honor their racist discriminatory flag and put some snakes in to honor their snake tamers. I want to see The Rajapakse’s and Fonseka to live in a barbed wire house. Are those torn-out plastic huts a part of Sri Lankan culture too? How come the Sri Lankan cabinet are not practicing this “exquisite” culture of their country. What are they going to know about culture eh “Barbaric killers”. Who ever said 59,000 Tamils have been settled buddy can you show me the number with legit proof? Can you also show me how many Tamils got resettled in their own place and how many Sinhalese people were moved in with the Tamil people? How come all your business me are donating so much for your “Api wenu Api” fund which is for the military personnel when 300,000 people are dying without food, water, proper shelter, health problems. Your government has money to build luxury houses with shopping complexes in the north for the army people but doesn’t have enough money to construct a proper health care system or even build temporary shelters for these people? If you people are inefficient in fulfilling their concerns how are you going to make sure that these people’s rights are met for their future years and for their future generation? Two countries in peace is better than one country in chaos.

  • Veedhur

    @ NoEalam

    yet again you are misquoting disingenuously….(the reason why I disengaged in a previous thread and why I think smoulderinjin stated there is no point in continuing a discussion with you!)

    The 59,000 number except perhaps for 5000 or so has nothing to do with those locked up by the Govt in menik farm.

    ‘There are still 10,000 LTTE cadres still with the IDPs is again fabricated’ – over 10,000 (cadres, officers, some of their relatives, helpers, accountants, revenue collectors and even some sympathisers) have already been taken and of those 95% surrendered by themselves in response to the call and most of the balance were either pointed out by the civilians or were Identified by the surrendees during their interrogation. The military intelligence which had over 300 of its officers roam inside the camp for over two months also has withdrawn having exhausted all individuals with a connection to LTTE. So unless you are subscribing to Palitha Kohanas ‘they may still mentally be with LTTE’ or with Gotabhayas ‘the cancer is removed but you need radiation treatment for some time’ or believe in ‘collective punishment’ there is no sensible security justification. The micro level security threat there is in releasing the civilians is more than compensated by redeeming the country’s buddhist credentials, ensuring that the 250K or more innocent civilians don’t have to suffer misery (which includes preventable deaths) and to move the country towards reconciliation.

    Digging deeper toilet pits….Oh man/woman you have no clue about building toilets in flood plains!!

  • Susan Goon

    How dare you make fun of the democratically elected and highly popular government of Sri Lanka. This is not satire. This is a pathetic, amateurish attempt by a few disgruntled elements to make fun of the patriotic Sinhala Buddhists. Could it be that you are funded by the LTTE’s ill-gotten millions? What you could not earlier accomplish with rumour and vicious propaganda, you are now trying to do with so-called satire. You will soon be dealt with, now that your collection agent KP is spilling the beans.

  • SINhalagirl

    ONLY IN SRI LANKA…propoganda n brainwashing have become the SL govts call of duty now..geeze…thre’s no beauty in barbed wire no matter how much anyone tries 2 brainwash u…i may agree that there’s some beauty in white picket fences with lillies n roses around it..but barbed wire??? gimme a break..only these fools would come up with nonsense like this to downplay the real human suffering faced by the poor Tamils in the camps…IN SOLIDARITY!!!!!

  • Concerned Humanitarian

    Susan Goon:

    Please don’t be such a grumpy and spoilt sport? If you see beyond your “race vision” you would see the essence of this article.

  • smoulderingjin

    Goon – People, throughout the centuries, and the world, dare make fun of a lot of things. The currrent period, nation, and occasion are no exception.

    If you take a close look at most of the comments, you will realise that for most people on this forum this is satire, at its sharpest and best, worth engaging with.

    Make fun of patriotic Sinhala Buddhists? No one is making fun of Sinhala Buddhists here unless of course they do or say something absolutely ridiculous that forces us to laugh.

    Funded by the LTTE? This forum? Everyone? Forgive me for laughing. It appears impossible not to laugh at ranting such as yours.

    Is it possible for you to have an intelligent discussion at any point, or are you just “all sound and fury, signifying nothing”?

  • S.Sivanandan

    Goodness Gracious! “KATU KAMBI” as it is in vernacular tounge has also played an intergral part in the fermentation process in the manufacture of “Kassipu” the illicit hooch and in some villages it is a synonymn to “Kassippu”.

    A stall may be allocated to the moon shiners also to demonstrate the humanitarian benefit of the barbed wire !!

    Will the Lunatics who accuse United Nations Moon, the barbed or otherwise the barbaric wire is barricading the unity of the nation,mend the gavanized fence??

    Siva

  • Heshan

    Metal wire is aesthetically pleasing? I am thinking really hard here…

    Secondly, this exhibition leaves out a few details: the barbed wire is guarded by soldiers. Call it the Sri Lankan addition to barbed wire, if you will.

    On another note, I can’t resist taking a few swipes at “Ms. Gracious”…

    “As a Westerner my first reaction to barbed wire was to feel repelled by it.”

    Having lived in North America for over a decade, I can say that the only prominent structures whereby one encounters copious amounts of barbed wire happen to be maximum security federal prisons.

    “But having seen how it is used so simply and sensitively even in the displacement camps run by the Government,”

    Of course, she leaves out this part: if any inmate happens to examine the wonders of this barbed wire too closely – say by climbing over it – it will be a simple matter for one of the highly trained *sensitive* guards to shoot them.

    “I can see how it makes Sri Lankans across the island feel comfortable and at home.”

    Sri Lanka is the most open door community I’ve ever come across.

    “We Westerners might see it as incarceration,”

    Because it is incarceration?

    “but I now know that for Sri Lankans it is about their home and culture” pointed out Ms. Gracious.”

    Ms. Gracious should be so gracious as to give her real name… I have a feeling that this “Ms” Gracious is actually a Mr. Minister…

    Cutting edge? When the monsoon comes and goes, and the wire becomes rusty, it will definitely be cutting edge…