CURATEd BY Sharmini Pereira
One hundred thousand small tales of resistance considers the various artistic outputs made in response to the war years in Sri Lanka. The title of the show borrows from a poem written in 2003 by the leading Tamil poet and playwright, Cheran, in which he describes how a ‘bridge, strengthened by its burden of a hundred thousand tales, collapses within a single tear.”The exhibition is imagined as an inventory of materials that eventually bring about the bridge’s collapse. In so doing, it imagines how the burden of countless tales might be archived into an exhibition, before a single tear, of a page, renders them forgotten.
The exhibition addresses the question of recording an art history of what has come to pass, not only in terms of a war, but the artistic output that bore witness to the war’s many episodes, versions and narratives. While the exhibition, like the bridge in Cheran’s poem, gains it’s strength by the quantity and complexity of works on display, it simultaneously acknowledges how the burden of representation threatens to bring about it’s own downfall. Part archive and part inventory, One hundred thousand small tales of resistance aims to provide a starting point for thinking about art production in the country, from the lead up to Sri Lanka’s independence, which took place in 1948, to the present. The exhibition will include several generations of artists and will incorporate archival materials in addition to works on paper, paintings, photographs, film, sculpture and animation.