Archive for: Multimedia

Screenings and Q&A, ‘New South Asian Documentary: On and Off Screen’, New York University, 25-27 September 2015

Screening/Presentation: A selection of work by Kannan Arunasalam followed by Q&A with Kannan Arunasalam and Vasuki Nesiah (Gallatin Human Rights Initiative). ‘New South Asian Documentary: On and Off Screen’, New York University, New York, 25-27 September 2015

Review of ‘I Am’ in New York Times, 7 February 2014

“For viewers halfway around the world, “I Am” offers both a rich portrait of a region through the eyes of its elders, as well as a reminder of how, when racial or ethnic differences are put in the foreground, they overshadow both public and private life. Kannan Arunasalam is a Sri Lankan-born artist who grew up in London and returned to his home country in 2005. His project “I Am” (2010-12), which includes video and a website, uses the diary form to interview elders in Sri Lanka, particularly as people from different ethnic groups are ejected from the country, causing strife and transformation. The driving question for Mr. Arunasalam, as he says on the project’s website, is: “Was there a time when people in Sri Lanka didn’t describe themselves as Sinhalese or Tamil, Muslim or Burgher? Or at least when these identities weren’t foremost in their minds?” A Review of ‘Dear Diary: Update on All’, Martha Schwendener, New York Times, 7 February 2014

I AM project exhibited at Neuburger Museum of Art, Purchase, N.Y., January 4 – March 16, 2014

The exhibition of twenty international artists and thirty artworks explores how artists express their individual and collective identities, and the relationships among memory, document, and fiction. The mixed media exhibition presents work that uses online data, remembrance, handiwork, genetics, gaming, and Google to mark the discord, beauty and banality that occur each day.

‘Expressions of Identity’, Royal Commonwealth Society, London

Invited to share some of my work at this event in London organised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, International Alert and Voices for Reconciliation; chaired by George Alagiah and speaking alongside the writer Roshi Fernando and playwright Prassanna Puwanarajah.

The I Am project

I Am is a multimedia project exploring identity through the lives of Sri Lankan elders. The project is now into its second series, and is collection of portraits in photography and sound of the experience and insights of wise men and women from Sri Lanka. The portraits include the 105-year old tobacco farmer who talks about his simple way of life in a village in Jaffna; the union leader who cannot see himself as a Tamil, but only as a “workers’ leader”; the activist who was born into the barber caste, but who struggled with discrimination and became a poet; the writer who speaks of discovering the Other within the caste system of Jaffna and then becoming one in the south; and the businessman who, like tens of thousands of other Muslims, was expelled from his hometown of Jaffna by the Tamil Tigers, and who returned to restart a new life there. The project was made possible through a grant by the US Embassy in Colombo.

The warrior queen, I Am project

Helga de Silva talks about growing up in the family home that would eventually become the sumptuous “Helga’s Folly”. She reflects on why people are drawn to her ‘anti-hotel’, a canvas for hers and her guests’ creativity.

The chief monk, I Am project

Venerable Walatara Sobhita Nayaka Thero remembers when Buddhist songs were sung by Muslim singers, and explains why appreciating music and being a monk are not mutually exclusive.

The Independent, I Am project

Mrs Subramanium is the personal assistant to the head of one of Jaffna’s most popular newspaper. She reflects on her approach to life and death and why, despite the constant badgering from her diasporan family, she refuses to leave Jaffna.

The tobacco farmer, I Am project

At 105 years of age, Veerakathy may be the oldest man in Jaffna. The tobacco farmer from Velanai has already outlived six of his sons. He talks about a Jaffna way of life that has helped him live a very long life.