When Stillness Came Rushing In: Sri Lanka’s Artistic Community Responds to the Easter Attacks

Frieze May 2019, May 15, 2019

By Natasha Ginwala with contributions from Abdul Halik Azeez (@Colombedouin), Muvindu Binoy, Sandev Handy, We Are From Here, Imaad Majeed and Pushpakanthan Pakkiyarajah

On Easter Sunday, this restless coastal city, Colombo, and distant corners of the island felt a surging dark violence of previously unknown proportions. It came soon after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year holiday, Avurudu. Amid the fluctuating body count, frenzied house searches and spiralling Twitter feeds, the terror attacks at several churches and hotels also gave way to a heavy stillness. These bloody days and nights of suicide bombings and counter-strikes have been characterized as the most widespread violence in the country since civil war ended in 2009. And now, a foreboding sense of waiting: waiting for the nightly curfew to end; waiting for a police convoy with wailing sirens and politicians in SUVs to pass; waiting for the VPN to reconnect; waiting for racist slurs to abate; waiting between two attacks and waiting for the blame game to snap. Time has taken on a liquid dimension – every moment is a vibration, palpable in the torn body, rippling across terrains.