Colombo Art Biennale 2012 Schedule of Talks and Conversations 15-19 February

Beware of the critic whose reputation depends on the power to impress the public with a semblance of knowledge, and the artist who attempts to do the same with skill and technical swagger. An artists’ perspective, see Gallery Talk 16 February Critique versus Criticism

This looks like a timely talk topic and one that’s sure to get us all thinking about our roles – as both critics/reviewers and art producers. It’s also important to challenge the taste makers and gatekeepers in the arts, especially those who like to dazzle and, sometimes, befuddle with language games and (apparent) knowledge. Also, to the artists who place technical virtuosity above all else.

As part of Hotshoe Blog supporting the Colombo Art Biennalee (CAB) 2012, the Roaming Eye (tRE) – who has been travelling off shore looking at all creatures great and small – is delighted to share the talks and conversations scheduled for the festival. It’s an exciting and interesting line up with international and local artists and curators contributing to a diverse range of topics. The schedule is still evolving, so keep checking in as relevant updates will be posted. However, The Roaming Eye will be at the biennale for the 18 and 19 February and will be reporting from the festival, talking to some of the photographers and visual artists and attending a couple of the talks on those days.

Of particular interest to readers of this blog is photojournalist, activist, writer and curator Dr Shahidul Alam from Bangladesh. The Roaming Eye hopes to do a short interview with him for the blog, so look out for it as a short podcast especially if you’re unfamiliar with his work.

It’s always good to discover new things and search for fresh perspectives – one of the hallmarks of Hotshoe and its tagline. But we’re also aware that it’s easy to say we do it but the proof is in actually getting out there and doing it – not just saying we do. Otherwise, we’re just blowing hot air. Plus, in an increasingly global world, a global approach is needed to stave of Eurocentrism and Northern-America bias in the photography and arts worlds.

See more for details of some of the scheduled talks.

Thursday 16 February 2012
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “Why a Biennale?” A conversation with the BECOMING 2012 organisers.

Presented to the public by Neil Butler, UK Co-Director CAB 2012 (Keynote), Roman Berka, Suresh Jeyaram – Curators, CAB 2012, Annoushka Hempel, Festival Founder & Director, Jagath Weerasinghe, Co-Director

An introductory talk also featuring the Biennale Curators – Roman Berka and Suresh Jeyaram – to set the scope of the range of works being presented and the topics covered in Talks to come. Aimed at participating artists, students and the general public.
Venue: Park Street Hotel, Park Street, Colombo 2 (NOT TICKETED)

Session 2 – 4.00 – 6.00pm – Harry Peris, The ’43 Group and the Sapumal Foundation.

Gallery Talk – 2.00 – 3.00pm – “Critique versus Critcism”
Speaker: Leo Pasqualge, Artist BECOMING 2012.

“Beware of the critic whose reputation depends on the power to impress the public with a semblance of knowledge, and the artist who attempts to do the same with skill and technical swagger” – An artists’ perspective.
Venue: JDA Perera Gallery (NOT TICKETED)

Friday 17 February 2012
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “Building Bridges – The South Asian Context”
Speaker: Suresh Jeyaram, Curator BECOMING 2012

“Sethu Samudram” is a three-year collaborative art project and a dialog-making platform between Theertha International Artists Collective, Colombo, Sri Lanka and 1Shanthi Road in Bangalore, India, bridging art, history and human relations. “Sethu Samudram” is the name of the mythical bridge found in Ramayana, meaning the bridge across the ocean. This bridge connects Sri Lanka and India.
Venue: Nuga Gama, Cinnamon Grand Hotel, Colombo 3

Saturday 18 February 2012
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “The Debate – Does great art require great skill?”

Panel: Cecil Balmond UK/Sri Lanka, Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh and Biennale artists. Dr Shahidul Alam is a world-renowned photojournalist, activist and writer from Bangladesh who will be at the festival. His profile is on the CAB website

Yes or No? an interactive debate on the benchmarks to becoming a great artist. The audience will be invited to vote.
Venue: Barefoot Gallery

Photo of Shahidul Alam

Session 2 – 2.30pm – 4.00pm – “Art as a Witness”
Speaker: Shahidul Alam, Bangladesh

Faced with imposed situations of repression, cultural activists have had to find new ways of resistance. This has required documentation, articulation and tools of creative expression to deal with injustice in many forms. By using both new and traditional media, as well as the networking ability of social media, lean and tenacious campaigns are formed that insisted on being heard and bent on achieving justice.

The presentation attempts to show how, by resisting not only the formal entities that have usurped power, but also the cultural norms that attempt to pigeon-hole cultural practice in terms of ‘fine art’, have tried to ensure that our ‘art’ does not limit itself to admiration in a gallery. It breathes the gunpowder laden air of street battles with police, the dank vapours of the factory floor and pervades the silence of patriarchal inner chamber.
Venue: Barefoot Gallery

Session 3 – 4.30pm – 6.00pm – “Art and Architecture”

Sunday 19 February
Session 1 – 11.00am – 12.30pm – “What now – after the ‘90s Trend?”
Speaker: Jagath Weerasinghe,Sri Lanka

Art of the 1990s marked a turning point in Sri Lankan modernist art. It brought in a narrative turn to the modernist art and pushed it beyond modernist aesthetics. In this presentation Jagath Weerasinghe will talk on this change and attempt at addressing the possibilities and limitations that the 90’s trend brought in.
Venue: CASA Colombo, Galle Road, Colombo 4

Session 2 – 4.00 – 5.30pm – “Art and an expanded Museum Concept”
Speaker: Roman Berka, Museum In Progress, Vienna, Austria

Daily newspapers, magazines, billboards, television, information screens, building façades or the safety curtain in the Vienna State Opera House have been used temporarily for media- and site-specific contemporary art. Outside the walls of the traditional White Cube, Museum in Progress is active in a wide-ranging social environment and is devoted to an avant-garde concept of art that includes other social systems besides the traditional artistic milieu. In this way it elaborates on the artistic concepts of the 1960s and 1970s, creating a virtual “museum of the twenty-first century” that grows in the public sphere like a social sculpture. Philosophy, science, politics and other aspects of social life are reflected in the contributions, which encourage socially relevant discussion on the basis of an expanded conception of art.
Venue: SKKY Bar, 4th Floor, 42 Sir Mohamad Macan Markar Mw., Colombo 3

Session 3 – “Art as a Social Sculpture”

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