The arts are thought to have the power to make or break cultures; in this regard its practitioners – the artists, hold incredible influence over the public psyche. As the fifth edition of Cinnamon Colomboscope draws closer, the artists coming together at the festival are preparing to permeate the public with a critical message; the ongoing environmental issue, themed under Re/evolution. Cinnamon Colomboscope is presented by Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts along with the John Keells Foundation, and the state patronage extended through Sri Lanka Tourism. Founded in 2013 by the European Union National Institute for Culture (EUNIC) cluster in Sri Lanka constituting of Goethe-Institut, British Council and Alliance Française de Kotte, the festival has grown over half a decade to earn its own place among Colombo’s most anticipated events. We interviewed a few of the artists presenting at this year’s festival, to understand how their creatives are setting out to inspire the masses with the thought-provoking theme of Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017.
Dillai Joseph- multi-talented Sri Lankan artist, singer, musician, creative director and co-founder of creative think tank – ‘the next big think’, is collaborating with Writer – Megan Dhakshini and Decorator/Designer – Charith De Silva, for Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017. She explains why she finds the arts to be a powerful medium to convey the all-important message of environmental destruction and the issues that surround it. “I find art to be a form of storytelling. We remember messages when it’s in the form a story, because the audience is immersed in what’s being communicatied. This festival is well timed for Sri Lanka and the World. Coming together will help us connect with our very own existence, and help the future generations.” Her collaboration at the festival this year with Megan and Charith aims to highlight our own demons of bad habits and practices. “We used the Sanni yakuma ritual and their masks to showcase the modern day demon affecting us. We designed the masks showing how we are the evil we see. Our over indulgence in plastics, mindless deforestation, overcrowding by endless construction in cities, overuse of pesticides, improper waste management and an increasingly large carbon footprint per person are some of the demons possessing us today.” Dillai says that this is not to create a situation of pointless self-blame, but rather to instill the realisation that we possess the power to make or break our own future on the planet. Dillai, Charith and Megan will launch a series of ‘modern day sanni’ at Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017, including plastic sanniya, gas kapana sanniya, kruminashaka sanniya etc., demonstrated through lively masks incorporating both traditional and modern day dance and song.
The German artist Karine Bonneval, is another participant who feels very strongly about the festival theme and is excited about using her art as a means to act upon it. Bonneval who studied at Angoulème fine arts school and at Strasbourg decorative arts school, bridges science and art through her work. One of her main art pieces was the ‘Dendromacy project’, which captures our invisible exchanges with trees through film and geodesic architecture, creating an invitation to look at trees differently and to re-discover our connection with them. Sharing her excitement in being a part of Colomboscope, Bonneval said “Ecology concerns all humanity, and it’s important to bring our energies together to talk, discover and dream what could be our world tomorrow. I’m very happy and proud to take part in this festival! I think contemporary art is, in a way, an international language. For me, art is a good entry point to enlarge the discussion as it’s fed by so many influences, and it can touch the audience in a responsive way.” Her work that is to be featured at the festival aims to highlight how mankind is part of a vast ecosystem, through a series of sculptures, installations, sounds and movies that constitute to a poetic experience.
Lekha Edirisinghe, Sri Lankan born photographer, cinematographer and former dancer, will also be part of Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017. She says that her piece for the festival tackles the ‘plastic bottle mass corporation’ that has created an artificial need in the market for culture where people were always ready to hand a glass of water to a stranger. “Sri Lanka had beautiful practices such as the roadside ‘pin thaliya’ that gives drinking water freely and the general practice of hospitality that gives anyone a glass of water as a basic level of human decency. The plastic water bottle culture has taken all this away today and made water into a commodity. They have artificially created a need to buy water when there was never such need to begin with.” Lekha says that it’s not only the fact that disposable plastic bottles are causing havoc in our oceans, water bodies and lands, but its also how corporations are buying lands to claim water as their own commodity, when it is a free public resource. Lush areas like Namunukula, Sri Lanka are being bought by these companies, making that water inaccessible to people in the area. It’s just not right.” Lekha’s installation will bring these alarming facts and concerns under the spotlight and push the visitors to reconsider buying their next plastic water bottle.
The compelling pieces by Lekha, Karine as well as Dillai and her partners will be at the upcoming edition of Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017. It will be held at the former Colombo Terminus Railway Station in Maradana, between September two and seven, unfolding around a powerful theme that aims to bring the ongoing environmental crisis under the spotlight, in the hope of using the arts to inspire new ways of thinking and living in response to the situation.
Taking place from September two to seven 2017, Cinnamon Colomboscope celebrates 7 days of curated visual and performing arts, outreach initiatives, talks, film screenings, performances, a pop-up good market and more. It aims to mobilise communities to engage and interact with thought provoking, creative processes.
Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017 is organised by Cinnamon Hotels & Resorts in association with the John Keells Foundation, Cinnamon Life and Powered by JAT. The festival is conceptualised by EUNIC Sri Lanka comprising of the Goethe-Institut, the British Council and Alliance Française de Kotte and is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland, the Turkish Embassy, Embassy of France, Institut Français and Pro Helvetia – Swiss Arts Council. Destination partner Sri Lanka Tourist Promotion Bureau, Media Partner Daily Mirror, Daily FT and Sunday Times. The Art magazine partner for Cinnamon Colomboscope 2017 is Artra.
For more information visit www.cinnamoncolomboscope.com