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Artists document Lanka's crisis through photographs

This exhibition titled ‘The People’s Voice is Louder’ serves as a reflective work on the crisis and incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka.

Artists document Lankas crisis through photographs

In 2022, Sri Lanka faced an unprecedented economic crisis and political change. In response, Goethe-Institut Sri Lanka, Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Chennai, and the CPB Foundation have come together to showcase lens-based stories from four Sri Lankan artists, each sharing their own experiences of the events. This exhibition titled ‘The People’s Voice is Louder’ serves as a reflective work on the crisis and incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka. The exhibition features a curated selection of photographs by Parilojithan Ramanathan, Nayanahari Abeynayake, Riyal Raffai and Pirainila Krishnarajah.

Parilojithan Ramanathan, a multidisciplinary artist, provided his perspective in an interview with DT Next, stating, “Four photographers/artists independently captured the situation in Sri Lanka. Although I hail from the Eastern part of Lanka, my focus was on documenting the crisis on the Western side. As an art teacher in Colombo, I had my daytime commitments at school. However, in the evenings, I visited the protest sites to document the situation and the hardships faced by the people in the city.”

He further adds, “I am a witness to this crisis and its profound impact on the economic and political stability of my home country. Through my photographs, I aimed to portray the various faces of the current situation and the stories of individuals directly and indirectly affected. When viewed as a series or individually, my photographs offer different perspectives and moments of the protest, shedding light on the ongoing crisis in Sri Lanka.”

Ramanathan also reflects on the challenges faced during the documentation process, such as managing time, meeting people, and working under difficult circumstances. He emphasises the collaboration among the four photographers, who documented different parts of Sri Lanka, and their collective goal to narrate the story and share it with the outside world. Ramanathan explains, “I wanted to contribute to strengthening the protest by documenting the situation and capturing what was happening during these protests, which were unlike anything we had experienced in history. People of all ages, castes, and religions came together to fight for their rights and demand justice.”

Pirainila Krishnarajah’s focus was on the fishing community and how they were affected by the fuel shortage. “Amid the economic crisis, the fishing communities faced even greater difficulties in their occupation and daily lives due to the scarcity of fuel. The Kurunagar fisherfolk, in particular, endured intense suffering,” he points out.

The team also created a film, which was screened at the Kochi Biennale and the Ahmedabad National Photography Exhibition. The photo exhibition is on till July 2 at Alliance Française of Madras.

Merin James
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