Friday, February 26, 2010

An unconventional artwork of diaspora heritage, Imag(in)ing ‘Home’ ..!!!

2010/2/27 Bas Baskaran
- Show quoted text -

எங்கள் உயர்வு உங்கள் கையில்!
வரும் காலம் வரலாறு படைக்க
விரைந்து செயற்படுவீர்!
உலக அரங்கில் உன்னத நிலைகாண
உறங்காது உழையுங்கள்!

Eezham artist presents heritage as everybody’s property

An unconventional artwork of diaspora heritage, Imag(in)ing ‘Home’ presented by Thamotharampillai Shanaathanan, Lecturer in Art History of the Fine Arts Department of the University of Jaffna, with the participation of Eezham Tamil community in Vancouver, Canada, is now in display in an Art Exhibition of the Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Canada. What Shanaathanan did last September was asking the members of the diaspora in Vancouver to bring anything that reminds them of the heritage of ‘home.’ 300 objects thus collected, prompting historical as well as structural analysis, were put into plastic bottles and like a collage giving collective meaning they make an innovative display now in the exhibition titled Border Zones: New Art Across Cultures, opened last Saturday.

Visitors to the exhibition in Vancouver

T. Shanaathanan, lecturer in art history, University of Jaffna

Preparation of the display by members of the Tamil diaspora community in Vancouver

A section of the exhibits

Another section of the exhibits

Preparation of the display

Preparation of the display
When colonial Tamil culture first saw a museum established in Chennai, it was known in Tamil language as Cheththa-kaaleaj, college of dead objects, as opposed to Uyirk-kaaleaj, college of life beings, the zoo.

The idea thus imbibed into Tamil mind and still continues is that a museum keeps only obsolete artefacts, rare and precious.

But, Shanaathanan has shown that a museum display is as much connected to memories and inner self of the living, and anything could be an object of heritage provided it is presented in the relevant context of the living.

He has also revolutionised the conventional idea of the Tamil mind that a museum piece of heritage is always of commercial value and is collected or presented only by experts of the trade dealing with bygone times.

In his presentation, heritage objects are liberated from the clutches of the commercial world of antiquarianism and they are properties of everybody. What is a piece of heritage and what is its value have become abstract. The community participation has liberated art and heritage as everybody’s property, providing space for new historical and structural analyses.

Saddened by Colombo’s antiquarian trade of traditional artefacts stolen from Tamil areas by the occupying forces, there are views that the diaspora should organize funds to purchase them. This is waste of money and will only promote further plunder.

As has been demonstrated by Shanaathanan, meaningful study of heritage, its preservation and presentation are far different from patrons of antiquarian trade flaunting wealth in their hobby.

Shanaathanan’s innovative ideas stem from the call of his times.

Forced diaspora, global and mass-scaled, is hitherto unseen phenomenon for Tamils. It was never experienced in the entire realm of the history of Tamil civilization.

The historic task of Tamil artists is not merely presenting the heritage of home of the homeless, but initiating a new heritage of looking at heritage.

Hope the inspiration picks up in the Tamil diaspora for permanent museums of heritage around the world.

Born in Thaavadi, Jaffna 36-year-old Shanaathanan is currently engaged in research for Ph.D at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Six years ago, he organized an art exhibition in Jaffna, bringing together Tamil and Sinhala artists for the first time in 50 years attempting to deal with the trauma of war.

The current art exhibition in Vancouver features the presentations of twelve internationally acclaimed artists from Iran, Canada, Australia, France, Malaysia and Eezham.

Note a Sri Lankan birth-certificate being an object of heritage for the diaspora

Preparation of the display

A son remembers the heritage of his father and through that the 'home'

An iron-handled curved knife called 'Kaampuch-chaththakam' used in peeling palmyrah leaf to make baskets, mats etc.

Barbed-wire is a heritage object reminding 'home'

A Tamil primary school text book, published in Chunnakam, Jaffna, reminds someone of 'home'

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

VK acted in over 300 films & with his winsome smile & compelling good looks was the undisputed romantic hero & heartthrob of the local silver screen.!

Vijaya Kumaratunga’s 22nd death anniversary today:

Vijaya, the romantic icon

Today marks the 22nd Death Anniversary of actor-politician Vijaya Kumaratunga who etched his name in the Sinhala cinema and the hearts of millions of film-goers in the country for ever.

Several programs have been arranged to commemorate the event by the Vijaya Kumaratunga Foundation and his loyal fans throughout the country.

The void left by his demise is still felt in the local cinema which today is bereft of such charm and screen presence.

Vijaya burst into the celluloid world in the ‘mountain moving’ film Hantane Kathawa and took the local cinema by storm.

Since then he acted in over 300 films and with his winsome smile and compelling good looks was the undisputed romantic hero and heartthrob of the local silver screen.

He blew a breath of fresh air into the lacklustre scene and emerged as the knight in shining armour to conquer the local film world.

Born on October 9,1945 in the coastal hamlet of Seeduwa, Vijaya was marked out as a budding artiste even while a student at Benedict’s College, Kotahena where he acted in school plays and was a livewire in the school’s drama society.

Incidentally the College was known to have produced many an artiste and cinematic personalities with names such as Premnath Moraes, Robin Fernando and Ravindra Randeniya standing out. Vijaya was also a member of the College debating team which stood him in good stead in his subsequent foray into the world of politics.

His unchallenged popularity of his era helped him in no small measure to ascend the political stage where he made a big impact with his lyrical oratory and captivating presence.

His first venture into national politics came when he contested the Katana constituency albeit unsuccessfully. Subsequently at the 1982 Presidential election he was the chief lieutenant of SLFP candidate Hector Kobbekaduwa whose campaign he single handedly steered amidst attempts from within to undermine his chances.

He later founded the Sri Lanka Mahajana Party with wife Chandrika which brought under one umbrella all the left and progressive forces. He was gunned down at his Polhengoda home on February 16, 1988 silencing the voice of one of the most phenomenal stars off the local silver screen and political stage.

- Rodney