In 1983, thirty three years ago, an organized mob led pogrom to humiliate minority Tamils living in Colombo and the south of Sri Lanka in revenge for the killing of 13 soldiers in Jaffna by the LTTE led to this moment in time in our history being referred to as Black July. My annual exhibition in commemoration of the un-commemorative moment and events thereafter that accelerated the ethnic conflict to ethnic war. After twenty-seven years of blood baths, massacres, bombings, suicide killings, disappearances, abductions, torture, explosions, malpractice, abuse of power, etc. the war ended in May 2009. In my opinion, neither the root causes of the ethnic problem nor the consequences of this protracted war have been addressed adequately. Many commissions have since been set up and their reports are available to the public. Anti-minority mind sets, Sinhala chauvinism and religious extremism is now nurtured by corrupt, political opportunists of the previous totalitarian regime who still believe this is a route to wrest back power into their hands. For this purpose they fabricate mythologies, falsify stories of heroism, they blame the West, invent conspiracy theories and are constantly looking for scapegoats. Most of all they are not willing to work together for a secure future for this country. Glitch, the title of this years exhibition, presents a series of work that describes the current political context and situation.
We normally see glitches when we are watching electronic visual devices such as television, computers and multimedia projections. Even though we buy or hire good quality devices this can happen at any time when issues of voltage or other glitches arises. We see distracted, distorted corrupted images. This technical term used commonly in the context of electronics now covers a wide variety of malfunctions and mishaps.
We can apply the term ‘glitch’ to the current political situation. Sri Lankans elected a new government with new hopes. More than one and half years have passed since the January 2015 Presidential election, however the government is not working as wished for by the people who elected them. Despite electing a better government it too is malfunctioning. The new government was elected to solve economic issues, as well as issues around the socio-political and cultural contexts of more than three decades. Today the families of those disappeared are still waiting for the truth. Extra-judicial killers have yet to be revealed. Restless souls haunt us everyday. Transitional Justice is necessary for post-war reconciliation efforts and to build a peaceful country. There must be political will and accountability, not a state of fear of power hungry wolves. The country must question what happened to promises of truth, accountability, and reparation and how we can guarantee non- recurrence.
We have to go beyond this glitch, gathering the necessary democratic energy to build the beautiful and peaceful place we all dream to live in.