Colombo Art Biennale 2016 Will Explore Concepts of Space

Over 40 artists will work with the theme 'Conceiving Space' for the Sri Lankan event.

Cristina Rodrigues Exhibition " Women from My Country" at Manchester Cathedral. Photo REZAKIO

The theme for Sri Lanka’s Colombo Art Biennale 2016 (CAB) is “Conceiving Space.” It will bring 40 international artists to Colombo, the country’s capital, with a focus on art from Sri Lanka and South Asia.

Curated by Alnoor Mitha, founder of Asia Triennial Manchester, the biennial seeks to reimagine traditional spatial concepts like boundaries and engagement. The participating artists, including Rajni Perera, Pushpamala N, Mithu Sen, Saskia Pintelon, and Cristina Rodrigues, will look at space in terms of community, memory, legacy, architecture, temporality, symbolic value, virtuality, and transcendence.

As part of the biennial’s educational program, students from Auckland University, Sheffield Hallam University, Hertfordshire University, and architecture graduates from Sri Lanka will collaborate on a nine-day architectural workshop on Slave Island, under architects such as the 2015 Tuner Prize winner, Studio Assemble.

Studio Assemble. Photo courtesy Colombo Art Biennial

Studio Assemble. Photo courtesy Colombo Art Biennale.

“Artists are the conduits of engagement with each other and most importantly with their immediate audiences,” Mitha said in a statement. “We are increasingly living in a time that is dominated by political events that are transforming our globe, making it unsafe, creating a new paradigm that questions our humanity through conflict. However, artists bring a new light, a new wisdom that generates a genuine engagement with the visual narrative that encapsulates issues around space, memory, identity, place, and what I call the transformative architectural paradigm that brings a new experiential reality.”

Mitha has big plans for the biennial and Sri Lanka, and is looking to draw artists and the art world to Colombo. The country is known for its diverse colonial history—it was colonized by the Dutch, Portuguese, and British—as well as its stunning natural beauty.

“My ultimate vision is to create a South Asian artistic hub in Colombo that is inspirational—an artistic journey that captivates the imagination whilst exploring new ideas with young people, and with the local communities who live in Sri Lanka whilst welcoming international delegates,” Mitha explains in his statement. “At the end of the day, art is transformative; it brings smiles to many faces and challenges the cerebral mindset.”

CAB will be installed in ten sites around Colombo, including Theertha Red Dot Gallery, Barefoot Gallery, Saskia Fernando Gallery, and Prana Lounge. It will run from December 2 to 20, 2016.

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