They come from North

Visions and narratives of an extinct city

Exhibition by Prasad Hettiarachchi

Curated by Simona Cella

Illustrations
Performative objects in motion
Talks, drifts and expanded cinema

MILAN
3-11 june
Associazione 1+1+1


ROME
18-23 june
Fondazione Pianoterra


BRESCIA
27 june - 05 july
CARME

With They come from North Kaiya Collective, in collaboration with Terzo Paesaggio, 5e6, and Pianoterra Foundation, continues the research on artistic languages, territories, and imaginaries explored within the production of the feature film Still Here by Suranga Katugampala.
The residency, in line with Kaiya Collective's philosophy, responds to a disobedient creative urgency, detached from an economic system and neocolonial mechanisms that exploit artists from the Global South. The entire operation, collectively conceived, relies on a lightweight organizational structure and a sustainable budget, initially entirely self-financed.
The artist's work becomes a magnetic force for a temporary constellation that connects realities rooted in the territory and active in urban and cultural redevelopment with outsiders not yet intercepted by institutions, funders, or artistic and cultural circuits.
During the residency, Prasad Hettiarachchi will not only engage with artistic and cultural subjects but also interface with the Sri Lankan diasporic circuit, with which he will design a public art workshop.

MILAN

03__11 june

Associazione 1+1+1 / Frigoriferi Milanesi
Via Piranesi, 12

h10.30 - h19.00


03 june - h.18.30
Vernissage with musical accompaniment by Roberto Dell'Era

05 june - h.18.30
Image and contemplation. The legacy and critical thinking of Ananda Coomaraswamy in contemporary art.
Video link with Pubudu Jayagoda, political scientist

06 june - h.16.00
Making New Land. Landscape and art between psychogeography and emotional maps
Prasad Hettiarachchi in conversation with Marta Bertani and Fabrice Dubosc

10 june - h.21.30
Expanded cinema curated by Kaiya Collective

04 june

MUDEC MILANO, h18.30


MUDEC MILANO
Still Here: the decolonial and disobedient potential of expanded cinema

Presentation of concept book Crazy Fish Sing
Talk with
Marta Bertani, architect and landscape designer
Simona Cella, film critic
Prasad Hettiarachchi, visual artist
Fabrice Dubosc, researcher of decolonial narratives
Suranga Katugampala, filmmaker

04 june

TERZO PAESAGGIO

08 june - h.18.30
Saravita Box Pop
Workshop to build a customizable prototype of Saravita Box Pop // Euro 5

15 june - h.21.00
Mysterious Object at Moon
Night walk on the edge of the city
Light design by Prasad Hettiarachchi
Music by Saravita Box Pop

ROME

18__23 june

Fondazione Pianoterra
Via Giusti, 24

h10.30 - h19.00


18 june - h.18.30
Vernissage

19 june - h.18.30
Image and contemplation. The legacy and critical thinking of Ananda Coomaraswamy in contemporary art.
Video link with Pubudu Jayagoda, political scientist

20 june - h.18.00
Still Here: the decolonial and disobedient potential of expanded cinema
Presentation of concept book Crazy Fish Sing
Talk with
Suranga Katugampala, Prasad Hettiarachchi, Ivelise Perniola, Simone Brioni, Simona Cella e Francesco Rombaldi


BRESCIA

27 june__05 july

Associazione Culturale CARME
Via delle Battaglie, 61/1

h10.30 - h19.00


27 june - h.18.30
Vernissage

27 june - h.18.30
Still Here: the decolonial and disobedient potential of expanded cinema
Presentation of concept book Crazy Fish Sing
Talk with
Suranga Katugampala, Prasad Hettiarachchi, Simone Brioni, Graziano Chiscuzzu

29 june - h.18.30
Image and contemplation. The legacy and critical thinking of Ananda Coomaraswamy in contemporary art.
Video link with Pubudu Jayagoda, political scientist

They come from North
Exhibition by Prasad Hettiarachchi

The solo exhibition presented in Italy includes most of the artist's production from the works of 2019 up to the new series They come from North. A refined and engaged artist, Hettiarachchi has been observing and representing the great social and urban transformations caused by the new Indian and Chinese colonization of Sri Lanka for years. The Visitors come from a North that no longer (or at least not only) represents the former European colonizers or the United States but the new world powers such as China and India, interested in exploiting the natural and social resources of Sri Lanka, a central hub for the New Silk Road.
The generative focus of his research is Colombo, and particularly the impact of recent urban and architectural development on the historic working-class neighborhood of Slave Island, victim of increasingly aggressive gentrification. In the illustrations dedicated to Slave Island, empty space dominates and configures an abstract landscape where, in a refined play of symbolic references and complex stratifications, traditional architectures float alongside menacing construction sites, disturbing creatures, and mutant bodies. It is the imaginary world where the inhabitants, forced into isolation by wild urbanization that has dissolved social ties, find refuge.
The hooks of imposing cranes grasp, like the claws of raptors, mysterious sacks entwined with the inhabitants' hair. Sacks in which memories, dreams, aspirations, and fears of a dispossessed yet complicit people in the transformation of their country are deposited. The sack, a symbol of ambiguous resistance, is also a sculpture. Made of papier-mâché, it is both light and pregnant with the memory contained in the old newspapers that compose it.
In the series The Architect, there is a strong reference to India, geographically close and historically linked to Sri Lanka by a visceral relationship fraught with tensions and contradictions. The figure of Gandhi seems to be revived in the bodies of the architects, new Gurus of wild urban development. Leaning like ascetics on construction poles, they have bodies and cloaks embroidered with an intricate and anarchic architectural plot where ancient symbols (the swan, the lotus), now reduced to empty simulacra, navigate among highways, pipelines, wind turbines, and menacing cranes. Round sunglasses shield their eyes, hiding their predatory and investigative gaze.
The hidden eyes of the Architects are contrasted with the doubled eyes of the protagonists of the series They come from North. Above their heads, transparent bubbles contain photos of Chinese construction sites that have invaded the island.
Central to all the works remains the reflection on the ambiguity of man and of a power that, insinuating itself into consciences, replaces critical thinking with new dreams in the form of buildings, highways, and glittering infrastructures of globalized modernity.
Hettiarachchi's vision, imbued with an Eastern and postcolonial interpretation of Marxist ideology and Gramscian thought, thus becomes political art and critical reflection.

Enthralled by mythological birds, prisons, divine monsters...

In the present of the paper, in the brush, in past and future pigments touch and touch us, moving our imagination to other shores. Jagged boundaries of imagined seas, swarms of men who take, usurp, damage, and fertilize simultaneously. They prey and love, leave marks, leave seeds, leave forms, shape legacies. Heavy burdens for those who will come later, and they will look at those marks and not understand. Because only the artists understand in their eyes, uniting in the timeless time of their brush, of their pencils, the time of times. The time that encompasses everything.
Someone falls, someone embraces, someone converses in suspended kingdoms, who are these beings? They fight, and inhabit parallel universes, which coexist in the moment of our vision. It is a struggle that repeats itself, an eternal return, a movement crystallized in the sign.
Objects suspend themselves in improbable close-ups, threads attached to mysterious otherness.
But where has the compass hidden to guide us in these maps? Where if not in a coin, a zahir, or a coin of capital? And who will solve the puzzle, (because it is a puzzle, this narrative lacks an ending), who will put the needle back to mark the north, the direction, the horizon, the orientation for us who navigate uncertainly in these maps of H.? There is no land, no sea, no shore or rock. There is the fragment, this sublime empty space, which forms balance and suspends in mystery this unfound island, these warriors with a thousand faces and a clock, and pushes to the corners.
Look at the angles, full, which seem to say, there is a beyond beyond the sheet. Or maybe everything just won't fit. Look at the center, if there is a center, and you will seem (only seem) to rearrange the compass rose, before being bewitched by mythological birds, prisons, divine monsters, glasses that darken to reveal, hypnotic floors.
In P.H.'s magical waters, everything converges to narrate and to make us lose ourselves in these stories, where everything holds, beyond every human law.

Alessandra Orlando
Painter and art historian

A man wrapped in a cloak, a staff in his hands. The face hidden by a forest, round glasses, lenses immersed in oceanic waters. He is a hermit, a worker, a priest who hides in his cloak a secret and terrible story. He is the director of a great epic that tells of a Kingdom populated by heroes and demons, naked priestesses and grieving mothers. Mythological birds kidnap maidens and Warrior Kings wield a thousand swords to defend themselves from the assault of new conquerors. Ambassadors converse within the silent walls of a palace while threatening construction sites emerge from the sea. A violated and lost Kingdom where palaces burn, boundaries shatter, waters devour. A Kingdom, a maternal womb that nurtures the universe and welcomes clawed monsters. Epic, political, popular, mythological art that leaves room for imagination but grants nothing to the violent and corrupt power of neo-colonialist capitalism. It is above all a free text that we can look at like a film, read like a geopolitical essay, contemplate like a mandala, decipher like a puzzle. Breathe like poetry.

Simona Cella
Curator and film critic


Prasad Hettiarachchi

Hettiarachchi, originally from the Rajagiriya neighborhood of Colombo, inherits his passion for art from his father, a wood craftsman specialized in the construction of ritual lanterns. He studied Mural Painting and Archaeology at the Postgraduate Institute of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya, and after a brief stint in the advertising world in 2010, he decided to dedicate himself entirely to art. He initially collaborated with Theertha Artists’ Collective before focusing on personal research, which led him to experiment with various techniques and languages. Over the years, his production has expanded to include refined illustrations inspired by miniature art, as well as mural art, carving, sculpture, video art, design, and Land Art.
From 2016 to 2022, in collaboration with the Central Cultural Fund (Matara District Project), he carried out important restoration interventions on paintings in ancient Buddhist temples. Since 2022, he has been a member of Kaiya Collective, a collective of multidisciplinary artists.


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