‘Becoming’: Colombo Art Biennale in February

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Following on from the first Colombo Art Biennale in 2009 ‘Imagining Peace’ is ‘Becoming,’ a theme that speaks to all the possibilities of the present in Sri Lanka.

Now the largest art manifestation in Sri Lanka, CAB was launched as a response to the lack of recognition received by the country’s wonderfully talented artists. As this magical country has emerged from the restrictions of its 26-year war, so its artists are free to seek the spotlight on both national and international stages.

As well as 24 local artists, ‘Becoming’ will host 17 international artists from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Netherlands, Norway, Australia and the US, which is a testament to its appeal as an event of great importance.

This February, CAB invites attendees to become part of the artful transformation of Colombo as the Biennale takes over Park Street Mews, JDA Perera Gallery and National Art Gallery to showcase a stunning variety of contemporary art. CAB will also host an array of fringe events around Colombo to include exhibitions, performances, workshops, screening, art talks including panel discussions, debate and presentations, artist dinners and the Colombo Art Biennale Becoming One party.

Whilst ‘Imagining Peace’ dealt with the immediate aftermath of war, the concept of ‘Becoming’ is intended to highlight the huge potential for positive development and change in Sri Lanka extending well beyond the remits of culture and the arts. This is a process in fact that is already in motion.   

Co-Founder Jagath Weerasinghe explains: “The 2012 CAB theme ‘Becoming’ denotes the idea of potentiality of transformation or movement – a transformation that is initiated and in progress. While Becoming translates into an idea of a transitional space, meaning ‘possibility of being in a moment between two decisive ends’, it plays on the uncertainty of certainty, up-rootedness, giving it a sense of akathesia (state of restlessness), criticality and open-endedness eluding logical conclusions or undoubted convictions. Therefore, ‘Becoming’ remains distanced from what it was before, and it is the last space left for pondering before concretizing the trajectory’s end. It’s a space for envisions, doubts, self- reflections, mirroring and intensity of thought.”

The expansive title of ‘Becoming’ thus opens up the opportunity for this to be the most dynamic exhibition yet to be held in Sri Lanka.

The CAB team would like to extend their gratitude to their main funding organizations, the Norwegian Embassy of Sri Lanka for funding the Sri Lankan artists, Mimeta Centre for Cultural Development and Standard Chartered Bank, without whom, this event would not be possible.

Annoushka Hempel and Jagath Weerasinghe, the Colombo Art Biennale Co-Founders, were delighted by the response to ‘Imagining Peace’ and as the excitement builds for ‘Becoming’ this coming February, Colombo can expect an even more vibrant and innovative display of contemporary art.  

Curating the upcoming Biennale, are two internationally renowned curators Suresh Jayaram (Founder and Director of 1 Shanthi Road, Bangalore) and Roman Berka (art historian, Director of Museum in Progress, Vienna).

This year the Colombo Art Biennale is delighted to announce a new Co-Director, Neil Butler, whose energetic approach and passion for culture will be perfectly matched to direct alongside CAB’s dynamic Director, Annoushka Hempel.

Neil shares his time between Sri Lanka and Europe, where he has enjoyed 18 years of directing countless large cultural events.  His experience and profound knowledge of the arts makes Neil a welcome addition to the CAB team.