I am very happy and honoured to be appointed – together with Suresh Jayaram – as curator of the second Colombo Art Biennale in 2012. I have a long standing connection with Sri Lanka, being project coordinator of One World Foundation, Vienna office, which runs a free school for one thousand students in Ahungalla in the southwest of Sri Lanka. The school was founded in 1995 by Kathrin Messner and the late Joseph Ortner. They also founded Museum in Progress in Vienna, to which I am now the Director. There has always been for me, only a small gap between the art world and projects adressing social issues.
I take interest in becoming aware of the changes going on in Sri Lanka, especially after the end of the civil war two years ago. I also realize that Sri Lanka has many very talented and socially minded artists, who care about the future and prosperity of their country and its people. Following the German artist Joseph Beuys, society can be seen as a ‘‘social sculpture“. And in this sense many of the Sri Lankan artists combine their artistic practises with social issues, whether they are painters, sculptors, performance artists, photographers or filmmakers. Sri Lanka should be proud of having such a wide range of established and emerging artists.
My task as international curator of the Colombo Art Biennle 2012 is to come here from outside with fresh views and select interesting positions of local artists, dealing with the Biennale’s official theme of “Becoming“, which describes a state of flux, a space of transition not only being currently experienced in Sri Lanka but also on a global level. It is my task to also bring international artists to Sri Lanka. For me it is a big challenge to establish a cultural dialogue and exchange, and I will do my best to draw the attention of the international art world to Sri Lanka and its emerging art scene.