Contested Space: A Photographic Exploration with an aim to Re-read the ‘Identity’, ‘Traditions’ and, ‘Culture’ of Historical Anuradhapura, Sir Lanka.
‘Identity’, ‘tradition, and ‘culture’ are always represented as homogeneous and static phenomenon. Historical writings on above have forgotten the diverse and diffusion aspects of those concepts. Anthropological explorations from all over the world have shown that no communities have exist without influence from ‘other’s’ societies. Forgetting these diverse and generative aspects of culture can create only the partial readings of ones own society. Also, this may be a problematic especially in heterogeneous societies as each trying to re-establish their so called purified ‘tradition’ or ‘identity, by excluding ‘others’. In order to affirm ones own culture, some may use these types of puritanical values as rhetoric over the other’s cultural domain. Historiography is the closest victim of this process, as everyone seeks their roots of generation through history.
However, historiography itself is a problematic in different aspects. Firstly, historical writings are result of the elitist scholarly project which suppressed the subaltern voices. Therefore, it does not reflect the plurality of the society. Secondly, it is always presence as partial truth as it constitutes between fiction (imagination) and reality. Thirdly, historiography is always shaped by writer’s ideological interests. Therefore, it is always argumentative and problematic. Thus, in order to understand the richness of ones own tradition, it is essential to re-read and re-interpret not only the historical writings but also existing factual records such as archaeological evidence.
Based on these basic theoretical and conceptual assumptions, the exhibition aims to generate a dialogue among the general public about historical period of Anuradhapura. Anuradhapura is being recognized as the golden era of the Sinhalese civilization and culture. But, as I conceptualized previously, this recognition itself is a problematic due to few reasons: most historical writings do not question what is the identity, and tradition of Sinhalese. Historiography of Anuradhapura period enunciates it’s civilization as homogeneous category which was emanated from own generations. Consequently, all other categories who lived in same ‘space’ and their contributions to the growth of that period have forgotten or excluded by the writing of history. However, most of the archaeological evidence found from Anuradhapura has shown the infusion of different traditions and their culture of same civilization. Thus, it is essential to identify and initiate the dialogue of understanding the history of Sri Lanka who wish to seek the pluralism in the country.
Taking to consideration of this, I intend to launch a dialogue of the historiography of Anuradhapura especially within the field of visual culture and generally among the general public. Thus, the exhibition attempts to depict the diversity of historical period of Anuradhapura by illustrating its archaeological evidence in the field of photography.
Moving in to …