Samdani Art Foundation
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February 5-8, 2016  |  CHRISTOPHER KULENDRAN THOMAS  |  Dhaka Art Summit


Christopher Kulendran Thomas is an artist who manipulates the processes through which art is distributed. He takes as his materials some of the cultural consequences of the economic liberalisation that followed the end of Sri Lanka’s 25-year civil war in 2009. Through what is now called terrorism and genocide, this civil war was waged between Hindu Tamil separatists (popularly known as Tamil Tigers) who wanted to establish a homeland called Tamil Eelam in the Northeast of the Island and the Buddhist Sinhalese Majority Sri Lankan government. ‘Peacetime’allows for tourism and aspirations of a comfortable future to flourish, and art galleries and design shops have been opening over the past six years and the cultural industries are growing with fashion weeks, biennales, and other festivals.

Thomas purchases artworks from the island’s contemporary art scene and reconfigures or reframes them for international circulation. Incorporating these original artworks into his own compositions, Thomas exploits the gap between what's considered contemporary in two different art markets and the gap between his family's own origins and his current context as a London based artist with access to the global networks of the contemporary art world. Taking this idea a step further, the artist is launching a brand called New Eelam that imagines the future of citizenship in an age of technologically accelerated globalisation. It is a speculative proposal based on a reinterpretation of the political philosophies of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. How would history have unfolded if the Tigers had manipulated the mechanics of global capital better than their enemy? This proximal sci-fi proposition speculates on how a nation might be reimagined without a territory and on how a corporation might be constituted as a state.