AN EXHIBITION FEATURING ARTISTS' BOOKS AND ALTERED BOOK ART CURATED BY AMIT KUMAR JAIN IN COLLABORATION WITH COLOMBO ART BIENNALE

ANNE COVEL • BANDANA TULACHAN • BANOO BATLIBOI • DENG YIFU • JAGATH WEERASINGHEE • KINGLEY GUNATILLAKE • LAYLA GONADUWA • LIZ FERNANDO • MADIHA SIKANDER • MEERA DEVIDAYAL • MUHAMMAD ABU • PREKSHA TATER • RABINDRA SHRESHTA • RADHIKA H. & SHANIKA P. • SAMANTHA BATRA MEHTA • SAMIT DAS • UBAHANG • SATHYANAND MOHAN • SMRITI CHOUDHARY • TANMOY SAMANTA • ZACH STENSEN

The “Reading Room” is a journey of discoveries and experiences, of nostalgia and witness; a space where the many and varied perspectives and practices of the book arts find a place of meeting, dialogue and expression. Book art demands both an aesthetic engagement and critical conceptual inquiry into the work.

The “Reading Room” is a journey of discoveries and experiences, of nostalgia and witness; a space where the many and varied perspectives and practices of the book arts find a place of meeting, dialogue and expression.

Aesthetic engagement with book art requires a paradigm shift to reading a different logic in the book: the logic of the visual, textural and cultural. Traditionally, the book has signified knowledge, and can be considered a visually embedded cultural site because of this history (consider the many times that books have been burnt as acts of symbolic violence). It is a site where many versions of history, senses of identity and narratives (both dominant and counter) converge.

The book in contemporary art, is thus an object completely transformed – not just in its structure, but also in its meaning. Walter Benjamin calls this the “renewal of existence”. This sense of renewal is to be experienced in the work of the exhibiting artists brought together in conversation in the “Reading Room”.

As one of the leading abstractionists of his country, Kingsley Gunatillake’s has a dual practice - of his canvases and paperworks exploring forms and colour theories, and artist’ books, which focus on the long and terrorised history of Sri Lankan civil war that lasted for over three decades, leaving a trail of dead memories and empty bullets amidst promises of reconciliation by politicians in its wake. Gunatilake questions the aftermath of war, consequences of destruction and explosion, and the rationality left in their inheritance.

Be it his abstract paintings or his ‘wounded’ books, Kingsley’s works are sensory responses to the experience of violence, as well as the perpetration of acts of violence. His prolific methodology is quick and aggressive and consistently resisting statist, dominant narratives that exist in a post-war era. The spine of his book practice is inspired from the burning of the Jaffna Library in 1981, which is reiterated through a meditative practice of burning and cutting; an act of remembering and that of a witness.

The mood is sometimes fantastical and playful, and sometimes evocative and intimate. At its most activist, it stands as a collective resistance to dominant politics and ideologies. And, as the artist, in many ways, works as an interpreter of the book, so will the viewer of the work. 

The experience of reading is deeply personal, whether approached with anticipation, curiosity, or sometimes even with hesitation. Thus, the “Reading Room” invites the reader of this space to carry with them the memory of this experience in a context created for encounter, discussion, and making meaning.

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ART ORGANISATION

KOCHI-MUZIRIS BIENNALE

Seeks to invoke the cosmopolitan spirit of the modern metropolis of Kochi and its mythical past, Muziris, create a platform that introduce contemporary international visual art theory and practice to India.

ART ORGANISATION

COLOMBO ART BIENNALE

CAB aims to strengthen the platform and enhance awareness of the strength and talent of Sri Lankan contemporary art and culture both within Sri Lanka and around the globe.

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