Testimonies are malleable to the temporality of memory and the discursive potential of language shape-shifting between contexts that locate them variously, folding and unfolding in space. In her work, Veena Das recognizes that testimonies, especially those that emerge from traumatic memory, exceed what can be legible as truth and evidence to the processes maintained by institutions of the state, media, medicine and law, whose narratives are then fixed in the public domain. On this torturous route of scrutiny and stifling necessity to conform to established frameworks of reference, so much of the abundant forms of expression that are possible in written and spoken tongues recede into the interstices of language, and the body; as Ocean Vuong says, language begins and ends in the body. This calls for redemptive narratives assembled from intimate and engaged inquiry, when possible, into the self and in the world—wherever their visceral traces may reside. The artists’ projects presented here partake in the essential task of dissecting and suturing together testimonies from traces of memory: salvaged in the lapses within official records; discovered in the materiality of archives forgotten while unlearning a life lived on far away shores that are still home; excavated from accounts in a partially familiar tongue; and embedded in the vital functions of the body—perhaps as the only remaining residue of an event. Various aesthetic interventions render visible what was forcibly made illegible, or swept into otherness by dominant apparatuses of power. Fragmented and poetic declarations of inheritance and belonging, as sonic and visual articulations, resist the persistence of erasure and silence to reclaim and re-appropriate linguistic coherence. This exhibition is an excerpt from Colomboscope 2021, Language is Migrant, which journeys from Cecilia Vicuna’s poem-manifesto of the same name where she writes: "Words move from language to language, from culture to culture, from mouth to mouth. Our bodies are migrants; cells and bacteria are migrants too. Even galaxies migrate." It finds its place at Chobi Mela Shunno as a congregation of testimonies that become critical assertions of the inherently plural flows and voices encompassed by the category that is citizenship.


Curated by

Date: February 12, 2021 to February 21, 2021

Time: 11:00 am to 8:00 pm

Venue: Drik-Path Building