The lead-up to the next Colomboscope festival, including professional development workshops, mentoring circles, and in-tandem residencies across four regions in Sri Lanka.
Across Sri Lanka, artists face a constant struggle to maintain a professional livelihood in the cultural sector due to lack of public funding, accessible arts libraries and open-source archives. The festival Colomboscope offers opportunities for creative producers to have a horizontal exchange on creative questions as well as topics of socio-political urgency.
The theme for the next edition of the Colomboscope festival is 'Language is Migrant'. Organised by Fold Media Collective - a local team of creative producers, designers and curators - initiatives in the lead-up to the festival include professional development workshops, mentoring circles, and in-tandem residencies across four regions in Sri Lanka.
Bringing together contemporary cultural practices that investigate local and global phenomena, works being produced during the project range from film, installation, creative publishing and performance poetry. Local audiences can see the developments of the artworks through regional open studios, and they will also feature in Colomboscope 2021.
Ttandem residencies bing together European and South Asian artists, as well as groups of local artists, to explore social dynamics, repressed histories and communal story telling. These tandem residencies will develop artistic projects through field research, social analysis and modes of narrative building. Some of the works produced as a result of the residencies will become accessible to semi-urban publics through open studio formats in the local region and then travel to Colomboscope festival 2021.
The project includes professionalisation workshops for emerging artists and cultural professionals from across Sri Lanka and South Asia. A first workshop (online and offline) was organised for artits invested in learning from forensic approaches to the visual arts and extending inquiries at the cross-section of media, investigative tools and sonic practices as well as documenting histories of repression and dissent.
The workshop was led by Lawrence Abu Hamdan, an artist and "Private Ear" working on mapping the terrain of rights, the construction of speech and acoustic testimony premised on forensic listening.
The festival Colomboscope offers opportunities for creative producers to have a horizontal exchange on creative questions as well as topics of socio-political urgency
In response to the Covid-19 reality, the project team launched a series of small online art projects under #HeldApartTogether and #EssentialServices on all Colomboscope (social) media channels. These online productions open a window into the artistic community’s present struggles and endeavors in communal resilience: it features previews of works of 5 local and 3 international artists that are part of the Colomboscope festival, alongside small personal accounts of how they are affected and inspired by the lockdown reality.
Colomboscope - On Language and Multitudinal Belonging as European Space of Culture
The jury was of the opinion that the project offers an innovative way of combining cultural disciplines in order to promote values of freedom and cohesion and was convinced of the clear project delivery plan as well as the elaborated relevance to the local context. The project is based on local needs and experience, is co-developed and co-owned by partners with clear goals to reaching out to a number of smaller local partners and is built on active and inclusive roles of all the partners.
Even though the project is based on an existing festival, the selection committee saw ample potential of creating new partnerships and reaching out to new and vulnerable audiences. The committee considered the project as a potentially strong model to use culture as means for promoting freedom and understanding.