Colombo, Sri Lanka

Venuri Perera, I dance for , 2019. Performance view, B52 at the Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo, Sri Lanka, January 25, 2019. From left: Rebeka Dilrukshi, Hasanthi Niriella, Venuri Perera, Kanchana M. Shani. Photo: Ruvin de Silva. From Colomboscope.


Various Venues

This past January, the artist and raconteur Firi Rahman gave a series of informal talks in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s Galle Face Green, a seaside park flanked by the colonial-era Galle Face Hotel and the futuristic megaproject Port City Colombo. During these events, he stood in front of Taste Karaththé, 2019, a street seller’s cart he had converted into a mobile phenakistoscope display featuring animations of sharks, coral reefs, and lighthouses. Speaking in Sinhala, Tamil, English, and Malay, Rahman drew a diverse crowd. He told stories of people from his neighboring community (called Kompannavidiya, or Slave Island) diving for turtle eggs and shark bones, running their laundry businesses in front of parliament, and building their mosque from local limestone. As we watched, we could sense the fragility of this community, its traditions and livelihoods, as it is displaced by the city’s rapid

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