Watch this space: Framing the past, untying the future

Photo by Tehani Ariyaratne’s ‘Sanctuary’, part of 30 Years Ago exhibition

Watch this space: Framing the past, untying the future’ – an exhibition featuring Sri Lankan art and work from the Artraker “Art of Peace” series, theatre and public discussions – is an attempt to interrogate how we see the past in order to envision a better future.

Full programme here. Curator’s note here.

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Should sites of violence have new lives and under transformation or remain a memorial to the crimes committed there? How should we remember the violence of the state? Is some violence more important than others, and how do these scales translate across communities, spaces, over time? How do we select what to forget or erase, with as much importance as choosing what to remember? How can memorialisation be true to the act it seeks to recall and also be relevant to changing context, time, audience, reception and reaction? Can sites of violence be shifted geo-spatially, or migrated to representation through virtual artefacts even as the physical evidence is erased? Is reconciliation possible without memory, or does memory feed into communal hagiography, impeding collective, shared narratives? How should digital cultures embrace the politics of memorialisation? What role can a divided mainstream media, supported by risk averse corporate advertising, really play in memorialising and interrogating the inconvenient?

Through this exhibition, insightful and evocative Artraker artwork from Northern Ireland, Mali, Myanmar, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries will be juxtaposed with carefully curated art from Sri Lanka, coupled with a theatrical production that interrogates space. ‘Watch this space: Framing the past, untying the future’ is an attempt to use art that results from, reflects upon or responds to violence as a platform to foster meaningful conversations around what kind of a future we need in Sri Lanka.

Recognising that no real future can be constructed without reference to or learning from the past, ‘Watch this space: Framing the past, untying the future’ offers frames through which to see the impact of violence, and the deep-seated challenges around memorialising.

The exhibition will also support ‘Forgetting November‘ – a compelling new theatre production by The Floating Space Theatre Company. As noted by the Company,

Forgetting November takes on the act of remembering in all its complexity: from the personal to the public, the treasured to the traumatic, the individual to the collective, the intimate, the embodied, the forgotten and the shared. It traces the lives of everyday people seemingly occupied in daily ritual who are separate, and intrinsically connected at the same time. They slowly become each others’ ghosts, as they begin to confront their memories in relation to collective pasts, the individual present and an unknown future.

All panels, keynotes and discussions will run from 5.30 – 7pm. The opening night reception will be from 7pm to 10pm.